China to tighten rules on pesticide use

Law enforcement officers from the industry and commerce administration of Deqing county, Zhejiang province, check whether pesticide residue in peppers in a greenhouse exceeds the standard. Ni Lifang / China Daily

The crackdown comes as misuse of such chemicals has increased in recent years.

A draft of the revised regulation was posted on the website of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council on Wednesday for public comment by the end of August.

According to a statement on the website, the revised draft improves the current regulation, which was issued in 1997, in areas of a production register, quality control, marketing, and the use and administrative management of pesticides.

For example, the draft requires pesticide manufacturers to set up systems to record the raw materials and quality of products to ensure that every process in the production conforms to quality standards.

The draft also requires local authorities to conduct reviews of the registered pesticide products and to ban or limit their use in cases where there are risks to product safety, people’s health or the environment.

The move is seen as another major effort by the central government to address safety issues related to agricultural products after the State Council, the Cabinet, announced earlier this month it would ban 10 types of highly toxic pesticides from registration and sale.

China is the world’s largest pesticide producer and consumer, with pesticide production hitting 2.26 million tons in 2009, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

At present, annual usage of pesticides in the country remained at 1.3 million tons, 2.5 times the global average, official figures showed.

The number of registered pesticide products in China has reached 27,000, a sharp increase from 9,747 in 1999. More than 2,000 companies are producing the chemicals, Ministry of Agriculture figures showed.

However, in recent years, incidents involving pesticide misuse have attracted growing concern among the public about food safety.

In February 2010, many provinces banned the sale of cowpeas that had been grown in South China’s Hainan province because high levels of the toxic pesticide isocarbophos were detected.

In April 2010, nine residents in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province, were poisoned after eating toxic garlic that had been polluted with organic phosphorus.

“The central government needs to crack down on substandard products that are flooding the market,” an industry insider told China Daily on Thursday, without giving his name.

Li Shilin, director of the agricultural technical station in Anhui province’s Fengtai county, said technical services and guidelines on the proper use of pesticides are needed urgently among local farmers.

“Most farmers do not have enough knowledge of pesticides and currently their purchases and use of the chemicals are based on their limited experience,” he said.

“Excessive doses of pesticides used in agriculture can happen easily and may harm public health. But so far, many farmers have not realized this,” he said.

China Daily

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