“The fear is so deep-rooted that it goes beyond milk powder—food rumors about things such as plastic seaweed and seedless grapes cultivated with birth control medicines frequently send consumers into a tailspin.
There are at least three reasons for the failure to restore people’s confidence in domestic food, notes Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York.
“It’s very hard to have a strong sense of optimism.”
One is the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the 1980s (pdf, p.3), which has contaminated farmland, and could be transferred to cows that eat that grass. The government has only just started to tackle the problem, Huang said in an interview with Quartz. China also has a top-down regulatory method, which makes it hard for the public to engage with the process, particularly given the lack of press freedom, he says. There is also a general perception of a “moral decline” in China, where people try to make money by whatever means it takes, Huang adds, noting that sometimes even farmers themselves don’t eat what they grow (link in Chinese) for the market….”
Get the full story on Quartz (qz.com).
From Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen and William Bi at Bloomberg.com
“At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.
“The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,” says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China Continue reading
From Mark McDonald in the New York Times:
“HONG KONG — There’s mercury in the baby formula. Cabbages are sprayed with formaldehyde. Gelatin capsules for pills, tens of millions of them, are laced with chromium. Used cooking oil is scooped out of gutters for recycling, right along with the sewage.
Accounts of dubious or unsafe food in China are as mesmerizing as they are disturbing — “artificial green peas,” grilled kebabs made from cat meat, contaminated chives, chlorine showing up in soft drinks.
There have been stories of imitation soy sauce made from hair clippings, ink and paraffin being used to dress up cheap noodles, and pork buns so loaded with bacteria that they glow in the dark. Continue reading
From Katja Jylkka, on Civil Eats:
“In both the popular imagination and ad campaigns, honey is the epitome of a wild food. After all, bees can’t be herded and overfed like cattle, or immobilized like broiler chickens if they are to continue making the sweet substance. As reported here last year, bees are “a key to global food security” due to their critical importance in food chains worldwide. In fact, honey seems to be a bellwether of global food insecurities.
The “wild” nature of even cultivated honey is both one of its major selling points and the source of many of its problems. A Guardian articlerecently reported that a European Union court on September 6 ruled that honey containing traces of pollen from genetically modified (GM) corn must also be labeled as GM produce. The ruling comes as a result of beekeepers in Germany discovering traces of corn pollen from a nearby field of Monsanto corn crops. The nature of bee biology and honey production throw the current discourse surrounding globalization and its effect on the permeability of local and global boundaries in a more literal light. After all, bees can’t be herded according to national borders. Continue reading
Organic vegetables grow behind a 6-foot fence at the Beijing Customs Administration Vegetable Base and Country Club. “Ordinary people can’t go in there,” a neighbor says. (Barbara Demick, LA Times)
“Reporting from Beijing— At a glance, it is clear this is no run-of-the-mill farm: A 6-foot spiked fence hems the meticulously planted vegetables and security guards control a cantilevered gate that glides open only to select cars.
“It is for officials only. They produce organic vegetables, peppers, onions, beans, cauliflowers, but they don’t sell to the public,” said Li Xiuqin, 68, a lifelong Shunyi village resident who lives directly across the street from the farm but has never been inside. “Ordinary people can’t go in there.” Continue reading
From Sharon LaFraniere in The New York Times:
“SHANGHAI — On a bustling corner near downtown Shanghai recently, some shoppers avoided the steamed buns sold by Zhu Qinghe in a street-side cubbyhole. Instead, they bought the packaged buns in the freezer section of Hualian, a supermarket chain store in the same building.
Big mistake: Mr. Zhu’s buns were soft, tasty and fresh, made every day, he said, at 3 a.m. The supermarket’s, on the other hand, came from a filthy workshop where workers “recycled” buns after their sell-by date. The workers merely threw the stale buns into a vat, added water and flour, and repackaged them to be sold anew. Continue reading
From Science Correspondent Richard Gray at The Telegraph (a U.K. paper):
Scientists have created genetically modified cattle that produce “human” milk in a bid to make cows’ milk more nutritious.
The scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.
Human milk contains high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.
The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company. Continue reading