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Slideshow: organic overtures

Meng Si visited a project in eastern China that trials natural farming methods. Introducing her photographs of the farm, she says extending its agricultural revolution still seems a distant dream.

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In late 2008, reports claimed that pesticide residue in peanuts grown in one county in Shandong, eastern China, were at potentially fatal levels. Official investigations discredited the rumours and peanut-lovers continue to enjoy their snack. But issues in peanut-growing, such as the use of toxic chemicals and agricultural membranes, remain unaddressed.

Peanut farmers know there is a range of factors that can reduce harvests, including pests such as beetle larvae. And, for the majority of farmers, the only way to deal with pests is powerful toxic pesticides, such as the long-banned “666”. In addition, agricultural membranes – thin plastic sheets – are often laid over fields of peanuts and other crops in order to prevent the evaporation or run-off of water and fertiliser and to reduce weed growth. But these membranes are difficult to gather up after use, and are usually abandoned by the side of fields, polluting the soil.

“Our existing agricultural methods cut off ecological cycles,” says Jiang Gaoming, chief researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany and a columnist for chinadialogue. “We need to restore and make use of those natural cycles.”

Since 2007, Jiang's research team has rented 27,000 square metres of land in Shandong, eastern China, to use as the Hongyi Organic Farm. The project aims to demonstrate organic farming practices, exploring commercially-viable forms of organic agriculture and attempting to grow the most successful organic crops in China.

The idea of organic agriculture originated in Europe and, by the year 2000, it was being used to some degree in 141 nations. But the amount of farmland dedicated to the practice in Asia remains fairly low compared to Europe, where organic methods are relatively widespread.

However, as living standards and awareness of environmental issues have increased in recent years, China has started catching up with the west in enthusiasm for organic farming, although high prices and inconsistent certification have left many consumers unconvinced about organic products and reluctant to buy them.

Jiang explains: “We have stopped all use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, membranes and additives and we don't use anything genetically modified; we're testing the role of organic agriculture in maintaining yields and improving profits. In just three years, we have already seen the power of this approach.”

Jiang is no mere follower of fashion. He believes that, if Chinese agriculture fails to move towards organic practices, the nation's soil will lose its last remnants of fertility. Like so many other commercial operations that have failed to account for environmental factors in business planning, the farming sector has long ignored the vital role of the soil. As a result, agricultural membranes, fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides have turned rich, dark earth pale.

But is it possible just to do away with chemicals in farming? What about their role in fighting disease and pests? China uses 7% of the world's arable land to feed 20% of the world's people – a miracle made possible by the use of over 1.2 million tonnes of chemicals annually.

“Farmers use 50 yuan (US$7.30) of toxic chemicals for every 667 square metres of peanuts planted but this still doesn't bring the pests completely under control. Our costs are much lower,” Jiang points out. In one of the team's small fields, pesticides have been replaced with two lamps that use light of a particular spectrum to attract insects to traps. “It doesn't catch all of them but it achieves an ecological balance,” says Jiang. “Even if the insects aren't there, the lights won't do any harm.”

The lights can attract up to 4.5 kilograms of insects a night. But, due to insect lifecycles, they are only caught on 70 nights of the year. In the last year, the farm has collected over 100 kilograms of insect larvae to use as feed supplements.

The farm also uses manual labour or mowers rather than weed-killer to remove weeds, which are then fed to locusts and freshwater fish. The income from this is enough to employ two farm labourers all year round. A 120-strong herd of cattle is fed using straw and cattle dung is used to produce methane to provide energy for the farm, with the waste products returned to the fields as high quality, organic fertiliser.

According to Jiang Gaoming's research, up to 70% of fertiliser used in China is wasted and overuse of such chemicals is a serious problem. He believes organic fertiliser could help China's agriculture move from a sector that is “high cost, high output, high pollution” to one that is “low cost, low output, no pollution”.

Can improving soil fertility and using organic practices result in lower costs than traditional methods? Organic grains and vegetables currently cost three to five times as much as normal equivalents on the market, while leeks and celery from Shandong province sell for 20 yuan (US$2.9) per half kilogram.

One person who believes low costs are feasible is Zhan Peilin, chairman of Rizhao Yikang Organic Technology. His company's microbial organic fertiliser is made out of sludge waste from kelp processing and bacteria imported from Japan, and trials have shown it is as effective as its chemical equivalents. However, he says state subsidies and preferential policies for chemical fertilisers are reducing the competitiveness of alternatives.

Zhan also believes that Jiang's farm suffers from a disconnect between production and the market. “As soon as production expands, you'll find the market is too small, unless you are providing animal proteins for food processors," he says, after visiting the locust-feeding hut. He adds that a single farm running a range of operations will incur higher management and business costs than larger ventures. And, with food safety legislation and monitoring still in need of improvement, only corporations – with their strong management and concern for corporate reputation – can be relied upon to provide accountability.

The farm is currently helping local farmer Jiang Gaoyu raise free-range chickens, using the “organic space” between crops. “In theory, the bigger an organic farm gets, the better the ecological and economic results are; management costs go down and more jobs are created,” says Jiang. His immediate goal is to persuade the villagers to dedicate 67,000 square metres of land to organic agriculture, with a long-term goal of converting the village’s entire 667,000 square kilometres to the practice.

As well as peanuts, the farm grows around 20 types of grain and vegetable, including wheat, corn, soya, green beans, chives, celery, potatoes, onions and garlic. These now carry an “organic” label and are described as high-standard, high-quality products, with no chemicals, fertilisers, additives or artificial compounds used. It seems that, after the excitement of increased yields brought about by such substances, followed by a period of overuse, those at the cutting edge of farming in China have decided to sever links with chemicals after seeing the damage done to the soil.

Despite a disappointing yield from the first crop of corn due to waterlogging, Jiang and his students remain confident. They believe that patience and constant experimentation are essential. It was the urgent quest for immediate results that led the farming industry to ignore soil quality in the first place, and to use fertilisers, chemicals and membranes, creating hard, polluted, infertile and unsustainable soil.

Jiang believes the farm's role as a demonstration project is more important than commercial success. But farmers need more than faith; they need reliable models and a stable income before they can be persuaded to abandon conventional practices.

Many agricultural experts share Jiang’s views and hope to save the soil – and the farming industry – through organic practices. For seven years, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has been running a project investigating key technologies for new types of multifunctional microbial fertiliser. Yuan Longping, the 79-year-old “father of hybrid rice”, is hopeful he will see 1,000 kilograms of super-hybrid rice produced per 667 square-metre harvest by the time he is 90. But, for now, eating healthily and eating enough remains no easy task for China’s 1.3 billion people.


Meng Si is managing editor at
chinadialogue’s Beijing branch


 

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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

能赚钱吗?

不知道他们产品的市场表现怎样?能赚钱吗?

Can it make money?

What is the market performance of their products? Can it make money?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

技术乌托邦在中国,没有市场


生态农业的关键,不是技术上的,而是组织上的。因为,就其本质,生态农业是一个“小自然”,是对“大自然”的人工模仿,借助某些特殊的现代技术,在一个相对封闭和有限空间中,模拟自然生物链,应该不是什么难题。换言之,生态农业原本是一个伪命题,就像循环经济一样。

解决生态农业的推广,才是生态农业的症结所在。但在这个问题上,更是尴尬,因为,中国有中国的特色。原因是:

其一,中国农民的人均耕地,不到3亩(大体上,国家划定了18亿亩的保护耕地底线,不容突破)。即使以家庭为单位,每家5口人,一家一户所拥有的土地,最多也不到20亩。“三十亩地一头牛”,说起来容易,在中国,却是一个空想。我们注意到,中科院在山东搞得生态农业试验田是多大呢?四十亩。也就是说,他们这个“实验田”,根本不适合中国的基本国情。因为,绝大多数的中国农民家庭,拥有的土地总量远远不到四十亩。

有人会说,可以把多个家庭联合起来啊。多个家庭联合起来,土地总量就超过40亩了。这个想法,说起来简单,做起来,几乎是不可能的。先看我们的历史,中国农村的改革,就是从“分田到户”开始的。为什么“分”啊,因为合在一起,没有人干活,结果是大家都挨饿,只好分开。人人都知道,分开之后,不利于规模化集约化经营,但直到今天,人们依然没有找到一个可行的“集体化”经营模式。

再看其它国家——农业生产,都是以家庭为单位的。欧洲、美国、日本,都一样。中国也不例外。所以,要是不能把生态农业集约到一个以家庭为单位的规模,就没有任何意义。可显然,四十亩地的生态农业,谈不上什么规模效应。所以,中科院的研究团队,才计划进一步扩大规模,近期做100亩,远期要做到1000亩。大了,会有规模效应,可是越大,越不适合中国国情,越不可能推广。

此其一,即:生态农业不可能在中国推开,中科院的研究,也就是一个技术乌托邦。玩玩儿,浪费纳税人几个钱,也就完了。其它的,别指望。

其二,我们不妨做一个较宽松的假设,即:生态农业是可以推广的,它适宜于在中国广大农村和千家万户普及。不推广普及,麻烦;推广普及了,会有更大的麻烦。为什么呢?不普及的时候,“试验田”里出产的是“精品”,精品自然价格高,产量不大,可利润可观。但一旦普及了,每一家每一户都可以出产“有机食品”,满大街叫卖“生态产品”,其价格只会直线下降,使得农民无利可图。“多收了三五斗”,农民都吐血了;生态农业普及全国,岂敢?

所以,生态农业,在中国推广,就别想了。试验吧,试验既是生态农业的开始,也是生态农业的结束。

也不是完全没有去处,北大荒和新疆建设兵团,应该去试试。除此之外,我找不到生态农业,适合中国的地区。

The technology utopia is in China, there is no market

The crucial point of ecological agriculture is not technology but organization. Due to its innate essence, ecological agriculture is a small man-made natural space modeled after the natural world. It draws some support from some modern technology. In a relatively small and confined space, it shouldn’t be too difficult to simulate the biological food chain. In other words, ecological agriculture is a false proposition, just like a circular economy.


Resolving the issue of publicizing ecological agriculture is the real problem of ecological agriculture. However this problem is even more embarrassing because China has its own special characteristics. The reasons are:


First, the Chinese peasants are allocated barely 3 mu (.2 hectares) per person. (Overall, the government determined that 1,800,000,000 mu (120,000,000 hectares) would be the baseline of protected arable land which cannot be violated.) Since every family makes up a unit, and every family has 5 people in it, one family’s land could only be 20 mu (1.3 hectare) at most. “30 mu per cattle” is easy enough to say, but in China it’s a pipe dream. We have noticed that the ecological agricultural farm in Shandong taken care of by Jiang Gaoming of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is 40 mu (2.6 hectares). This means that their experimental field is fundamentally inappropriate for China’s national conditions. The great majority of Chinese peasant family’s land does not even come close to 40 mu (2.6 hectares).


Some people say that you could have families unite. If the families unite, then their land would be more than 40 mu (2.6 hectares). This idea is easier said than done. Think about our history: the Chinese peasant revolution started with the idea of separating the fields for every family. Why were the fields separated? Because when they were put together, nobody did any work, and then everyone was starving, so the best solution was to separate the fields. Everyone knows that the separation is not conducive to large-scale intensive operations, but even today, people have not found a better collectivization operational model.

Look at the other countries: in agricultural production, the unit makes up a family. In Europe, America, and Japan, it’s all the same. China is not an exception. Therefore, if one can’t put the ecological agricultural intensive farming in a scale that fits a family unit, then the idea is meaningless. But it’s clear that if the ecological agriculture experiment were done on a 40 mu piece of land, it’s out of the question to try to claim that it is effective on some large scale. Therefore the group at the Chinese Academy of Sciences is planning to increase the scale of the project, in the near future using 100 mu (6.6 hectares) and in the longrun using 1000 mu (666.6 hectares). The bigger the operation gets, the more likely it will be successful; however, the bigger the operation gets, the more difficult it is to fit to China’s national situation, and the less likely it can be popularized.

For this reason, one can conclude the following. First, the ecological agriculture cannot be popularized in China; the study done by the Chinese Academy of Sciences is just a technological utopia. It just a game that will waste taxpayer’s money and then end. Besides that, there’s no hope for it.

Second, why not make a more broad assumption, namely that ecological agriculture can be popularized in China, and that is suitable for the vast villages and for every common family? If we do not popularize the common level, then it will be trouble some. But if we popularize the common level, it will be even more troublesome! Why? Because if it’s not at the common level, then the test fields will produce special products, and these special products will nationally have high prices. With a small supply, there will considerable profits. But as soon as one produces at the common level, every family will produce organic food, and the whole street will sell ecological goods, and then the price will drop, which will make it impossible for the peasants to make a profit. The peasants have put their blood, sweat and tears into this work just to “gain several dou of grain more;” who dares to change that and make ecological agriculture common for the whole country?

Therefore, popularizing ecological agriculture in China is unthinkable. You can experiment, but experimenting is the beginning as well as the end of ecological farming.

its place. The Great Northern Wilderness in Northern China and the Xinjiang Construction Corps should try it. Besides that, I can’t think of a place for ecological agriculture that suits China.

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meter

只要智慧引导,生态农业在中国完全可以实现

欧美的集约化农业不见得就是明智的选择,中国有适合中国的方式,可以让农民自己种,但关键要引导与帮助他们,我小时的家乡就是很生态的农业啊,所有的垃圾等东西都会被循环利用...

Ecoagriculture available in china if properly guided

The western-style intensive agriculture is not necessarily a wise option.China has its own proper way to let farmers attend their own rice paddies.However,the key is to offer them help and guide. Eco-friendly farming used to be the case in my hometown when I was young and all trash was recycled.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

需要大规模普及么?

看了上面读者的评论,不得不说两句。
不错,生态农业在中国仍然处于实验性的阶段。但是,在欧洲已经发展到了一定的水平。他山之石,至少说明生态农业的路子,不是乌托邦,走的人多了,这条路也会逐渐出现。然后,加上一条被强调的限制性条件,就是,在中国特殊国情下,能走的通么?答案是,能,但是要求不要太高。
生态农业不可能普及到千家万户,也不能被允许普及到那个程度,因为我们还要考虑粮食安全。但是,如果我们只做出来一个小规模的市场呢?只在这种研究型农场的示范意义下,拿出全国百分之五的土地去发展呢?我觉得,这样的资源和市场还是能够挤得出来。
生态农业是绿色的,但是它的性质是一项产业。做产业不是靠信念,商人是要挣钱的。人民对于安全食品的要求与日俱增,尤其能够承受得起有机产品高价格的社会阶级。只要培养出一角市场,生态农业就有饭吃。
也许这需要时间,至少,不要把中国的特殊国情说的铁板一块。

Is Such Large- Scale Dissemination Necessary?

After reading the comments above, I have to say two things.

It's true that ecological agriculture is still in the experimental phase in China. However, it has already developed to a certain level in Europe. This, at least, sheds light on the path to ecological agriculture. It's not a utopia, as more people take it, this path will gradually appear. On top of that, there is an emphasised restrictive condition, namely that, given China's present situation, can we take this path? The answer is yes, but requirements should not be excessive.

It is not possible for ecological agriculture to be disseminated widely, and it cannot be permitted to be spread to such a degree, because the safety of foodstuffs has to be considered. However, if we only create a small market? If we take only 5% of the nation's farmland to develop an experimental produce maket as a demonstration? I think this kind of market and these resources could be squeezed out.

Ecological agriculture is green, but it is still essentially an industry. Industries don't run on belief; businessmen want to earn money. People's demands with regard to food safety are increasing by the day, especially among the classes who can afford to support expensive organic products. You need only develop a niche market, and ecological agriculture can be supported.

Perhaps this needs time, but at the very least, you can't say that the situation in China is the same everywhere.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

大方向是好的

生态农业在大方向上是好的,但要落到实处则需要付出很多的努力。

All In All, A Good Thing

All in all, organic farming is a good thing, but on the other hand, developing it to the point where it is practical will need a lot of effort.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

书呆子

推广普及了,会有更大的麻烦。为什么呢?不普及的时候,“试验田”里出产的是“精品”,精品自然价格高,产量不大,可利润可观。但一旦普及了,每一家每一户都可以出产“有机食品”,满大街叫卖“生态产品”,其价格只会直线下降,使得农民无利可图。

唉,书呆子!

Bookworms

If organic products are promoted until they are commonplace, there will be more trouble. Why? When not common, the produce of "experimental fields" is considered a "boutique product". Such products naturally have high prices, and low amounts are produced, so there is considerable opportunity for profit. But as soon as they become common, everyone will be able to produce "organic food", and when the streets are full of people selling "organic products", the price of these products can only drop right down, leaving farmers with no profit.

Hah, bookworms!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

评论2是停在啥时的国情里?

认为家庭为单位是中国国情,那还是停留在过去的国情里。 农村土地改革已经让越来越多中型的农场主出现(租其他农民的地),现在问题不是农业集约不起来,而是担心过度的集约。而有机农业是分散的中,小系统工程。

What state of the country is comment no. 2 stuck in?

The belief that China is a country of family units is out of date. Rural land reform has allowed the appearance of more and more medium sized farms (renting from other farmland). The problem now is not of farming being insufficiently intensive, but that it is becoming overly intensive, whereas organic farming is decentralised, medium and small sized systems engineering. (Translated by smc)

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

一一解释

中型农场主,不是以家庭为单位吗?兄弟。你自己先要搞明白,家庭是一个计量单位,可大可小。农场主经营再多的土地,也是以家庭为单位的,这种社会组织以及经营方式,并没有变啊。

再则,担心过度集约,大概只是长三角、珠三角的事情,而长三角、珠三角只是中国的一个角落,更广大的中国,就忽略不计了吗?

Point by point explanation

Aren't mid-size farm owners also single family units? Brothers, you need to understand that family units, when used in measurement, vary in sizes. However much land a farm owner manages, it is still family-based. This kind of social structure and mode of management remains unchanged.

Furthermore, concern over-intensive working of the land is probably more relevant for the deltas of the Yangtze River and Zhu River, which merely account for a small part of the country. How can the broader area of China be discounted?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

回复:需要大规模普及么?

1,它山之石,也许永远是它山之石——别以为,在其他地方行得通的,在中国一定行得通。或者说,欧洲发展生态农业,可行;并不能证明在中国,也可行。

2,生态农业不生产粮食吗?如果生产粮食,那为什么您要担心粮食安全呢?要是不生产粮食的话,就更不可行了。

3,小规模示范,走高端,走贵族化之路,完全可行,而且,尤其适合中国这个“两极分化”的市场。不仅以后行,现在,北京人不都在春节送有机食品吗?我的建议,也没说这个不行。问题只在于,生态农业是贵族的?还是大众的。这才是要讨论的。

你要在中南海,弄一块生态农业示范田,肯定可行。天坛,也行。问题是推而广之,就麻烦了。

Re: Is Large- Scale Dissemination Necessary

1. What works in other places may only work there- don't assume that if it works elsewhere, it will necessarily work in China. In other words, the development of organic farming being feasible in Europe by no means proves that it is also workable in China.

2. Doesn't organic farming produce grain? If it produces grain, why would you be worried about food security? If it doesn't produce grain, of course, it's even less feasible.

3. Dissemination on a smaller scale, taken to an extreme, is the way to exclusivity, and is entirely practical, particularly suited to China's "two- tier" market . It's not just workable in the future- isn't everyone in Beijing giving organic products as gifts over the Spring Festival at present? My advice would be not to say this is impractical. The problem lies in the question of whether organic farming is for the rich few, or the poorer masses? This is what should be discussed.

Establishing demonstrative organic fields at Zhongnanhai would certainly be feasible. Doing so at Tianyun would work too. The problem would be expanding organic farming, which would be troublesome.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

回复评论八

他山之石,我的意思是这并不是永动机理论,这个理论在原理上本就不通。这证明生态农业不是死胡同。

粮食安全问题是这样的。生态农业不仅产粮食,而且由于光合产物的综合利用,反而能够产更多的食品。但是这些食品里粮食本身占的比例相对不高,而且考虑到化肥的替代,纯粮食产量应该会有所下降。但是综合起来,平均土地产值以热量计应该是更高的。当然这需要进一步实践的验证。但是中国人习惯了吃大米小麦,膳食结构一时难以改变。粮食吨数不够,几乎就认为是粮食安全问题。

生态农业我认为在摸着石头过河的很长一段时间内,可能偏贵族一点。但是不应该是永远的奢侈品。

生态试验田,我觉得没必要地块也要跟着涨价吧,偏远地区成本低,只要供货链能够建立起来,你们埋单不也不头疼么?

再者,试图给人民更安全的食物,在食品安全严重被威胁的今天,怎么会如此不被看好呢?是不是就像温水煮青蛙,时间长了,自己也适应了?也许,我们应该像中国体育一样,举全国之力,先有实践,然后一步步修正,终至找到一个更优良的解决之道。

Reply to Comment 8

By what works in other places, I mean that this is nothing like the theory of the perpetual motion machine, which is unworkable even in principle. This proves that organic farming is not a dead end.

The food security problem is like this: Organic farming not only produces grain, but moreover, due to the comprehensive use of photosynthetic products, actually produces more. But the proportion of food contained in this grain is correspondingly lower, and when you take into consideration the alternatives to chemical fertilizer, the amount of food produced should actually fall somewhat. But as a rule, the average caloric production value of the land should be improved. Of course, this needs more real testing. But Chinese people are used to eating rice and wheat, and dietary frameworks are hard to change. If the tonnage of food produced is too low, that can be considered a problem related to food security.

I believe that organic farming is still in a very long period of feeling its way forward, and might tilt slightly towards the wealthy. However, it should not always be a luxury product.

With regard to experimental fields, I feel they shouldn't necessarily result in high prices, as production costs are low in more remote areas, and they could be established if transportation links were provided - would paying for them not be a headache?

Furthermore, how can plans to give the public safer food not be viewed favourably in today's situaton where food safety is being severely threatened? Is it like being a frog being boiled in warm water- you get used to it over time? Perhaps we should deal with it like we do with sports, putting the entire country's strength first into implementing it, and then improving on it afterwards step by step, and eventually finding a better way to solve the problem.

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匿名 | Anonymous

回复评论9

上面的朋友,你好。你的回复,有些我接受。例如“它山之石”,你的解释,我认同。有些,则不认同。

其一,粮食安全。中国人的膳食结构,也在变。尤其是大城市,而生态农业的基本对象,必然是从大都市兴起的。只要,生态农业能产出比粮食更多的热值,没必要担心粮食安全的——现在城里的小资和白领,有多少吃大米白面呢?所以,根本的原因,可能是生态农业产出的热值不够。

其二,食品安全问题,和生态农业无关。也就是说,食品安全不是技术问题,而是一个诚信和社会公德问题。要是有人往牛奶里加三氯氰胺,往有机食品里添不该添的东西,生态农业出产的“一次产品”,再好,也没用。

或者说,发展生态农业,也许是一个鼓舞人心的计划,但要是以此作为解决食品安全的一种措施,估计就错了。

你提到体育,我也絮叨絮叨。

举全国之力发展体育,在外国人看来,是很可笑的。因为,这违背了西方人奥林匹克精神中最基本的“fair play”原则,即:对方是一个人,你这边是一帮人,甚至整个国家,就算你赢了,也不是什么光彩的事情。

这就像武林中人,要看谁厉害,必然是单挑,一对一的PK。对方一个人,你一大群人,胜之不武,岂不被江湖中人耻笑吗?

In Reply to Comment 9

Hello up there. I agree with some of your answer. For example the part about what works elsewhere, I agree with your explanation. On the other hand, there are some things I disagree with.

One of them is food security. Chinese dietary frameworks are also changing. Especially in the large cities, and the fundamental target of organic farming must be to begin in the metropoli. All that is needed for there to be no concern about food security is for organic farming to be able to produce food of greater calorific value- how many of the urban white- collar workers and poorer classes eat rice and flour? So the real reason for concern may be that the calorific value produced by organic farming is insufficient.

Second, the question of food safety has nothing to do with organic farming. Which is to say that food safety is not a technological problem, but rather a problem of integrity and ethics. If there are people adding melamine to milk, and adding things to organic products that shouldn't be there, no matter how good the "products" of organic farming are, they won't be any use.

Perhaps you mean that developing organic farming may be a strategy to encourage people, but if you intend to use it as a measure to resolve food safety issues, you have misunderstood the problem.

You brought up sports, so I'll go on a bit myself.

Bringing the strength of the entire country to bear to develop sports is laughable to foreigners. This is because it is against the idea of "fair play", which is the fundamental principle of the spirit of the western Olympic Games, since if your opponent is one person, and you have a gang, or even a whole country, even if you do win, it's nothing brilliant.

It's just like in martial arts; if you want to see who's the best, you have to compete as an individual, in a one- on- one contest. If you fight one man with a big crowd, you haven't proven your skill. Won't everyone just laugh at you?