Hazardous levels of pesticide residues have been found in traditional Chinese herbs, highlighting the need to phase out the use of industrial agricultural chemicals, says a Greenpeace report.
Toxic pesticide residues were found in 70% of the 65 traditional herbal products tested. Some 21 samples tested positive for more than 10 different kinds of pesticide residues, including some from those that had been officially banned in China. The levels of pesticide residues found in the tested samples are considered highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with some exceeding the EU food safety standards hundreds of times.
Herbal products, wolfberries, honeysuckle, Sanqi flowers, chrysanthemum and the like, were purchased from nine different big-name chain stores, including Beijing Tongrentang, Yunan Bai Yao and Guangdong Caizhilin, across China.
“Chinese herbs are trusted and used as food ingredients for healing purposes by millions of people around the world,” said Greenpeace East Asia’s ecological farming campaigner Jing Wang, who added: “Chinese herbs should heal, not harm people and must be pesticide free.”
Toxic chemicals accumulated inside human body due to long-term exposure to pesticide residues in food may lead to learning difficulties, hormone disruption and reproductive abnormalities.
Jing Wang said the test results expose the cracks in the current industrial agriculture system which is “heavily reliant on toxic chemicals at the expense of human and environmental health.”
Earlier this year, farmers in Shangdong Province were found using highly toxic pesticide when growing ginger, which stirred heated public debate over food safety. In December last year, a Japanese food company had to recall
of 400,000 packages of Chinese-grown tea after food safety tests found illegal levels of pesticide residue.
The overuse of pesticide could develop into an irreversible food safety and ecological crisis, Jing Wang warned.
“Only if the government strictly implement its policies to reduce the use of agricultural chemicals and promote ecological farming can the food safety issue be solved at the root,” she added.