How western organic food companies are threatening China’s farmers

Screen Shot at AM
A wholesale vegetable market in China

As Chinese consumers have prioritized food quality, imported organic products have soared in popularity, with some supermarkets following in the footsteps of their Western counterparts by dedicating entire sections to organic foods.

But while the boost in organic food sales should in theory be a boon to farmers, [Dr. Xia Hanbing, manager of Shanghai Tianzai Fruits and Vegetables Specialized Co-op,] laments that it’s not easy to cultivate such products in China. “It’s nearly impossible to grow organic vegetables on my farm, and it’s difficult for other farmers, too,” Xia says. “First and foremost, ‘organic’ calls for certain soil and water standards, and because vegetables are part of the food chain, they’re especially vulnerable to diseases and pests. The current eco-friendly measures to combat these problems are not yet developed enough to fully replace pesticides.”

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China has its own standards for organic products …. but with foreign brands scrambling to enter the Chinese market, many are simply buying fake “organic” accreditation from for-profit agencies, according to a July report from state news agency Xinhua.

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“Certifying and accrediting organic food has become a business,” Xia says. “With the certification process so often going through third parties with their own commercial interests, it has become a stamp of approval for the food producer itself, rather than for its products.”

Read full, original article: Greener Pastures: China’s Fraught Relationship With Organic Food

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