Source: Guangzhou Daily
October 11, 2011
Reported by: Huang Rongfang
Luo Xiwen, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, spoke at the opening ceremony of the Ninth Academic Week of Guangdong Association for Science and Technology yesterday. He pointed out that 12 million tons of Chinese grain are polluted by heavy metals every year at a time when many countries consider reducing soil pollution as important as reducing pollution of the air and water.
“Currently, China faces severe soil contamination. It is reported that there are over 300 million mu (roughly 50 million acres or two million hectares) of soil contaminated by heavy metals. This accounts for one sixth of China’s arable land. Every year heavy metals pollute 12 million tons of grain, causing a loss of 20 billion yuan,” Luo said worriedly. At the academic forefront of agricultural engineering, Luo is a famous expert in electromechanical integration of agricultural machinery and equipment and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
According to him, soil pollution has become a global issue. For example, over 217,000 farms in the United States are contaminated by heavy metals. For this reason, many countries attach the same importance to reducing soil contamination as to reducing pollution of the air and water.
Food safety cannot be achieved by merely relying on the self-discipline of individual enterprises.
Luo pointed out that food safety can be truly achieved only when the supply chain is transparent and each link on it – food producers, managers, sellers, and consumers – is subjected to investigation. For example, agricultural conditions, such as soil and water quality, can be monitored by sensors. Traceability systems for germ plasm and animal feed and reporting systems for animal epidemics can be applied to the breeding of animals.
Luo also noted that in Japan many farm products sold in supermarkets, such as apples and pumpkins, have bar codes on them to identify producers and production addresses. This enables people to figure out who is responsible when problems occur. Luo disagreed with some government officials who said to the media that food safety comes down to the self-discipline and ethics of businesses. Some officials hold this opinion because they believe there are too many poisonous substances for the government to detect everything. But Luo said, “Even if the number of poisonous substances is great, the government should try its best to detect them. Why do we have this governmental department if self-discipline alone ensures food safety?”
Translated by: Zou Qiu
Proofread by: Dylan O’Donoghue
Edited by: Madelyn Finucane