Farmers accused of using a highly toxic pesticide on their crop of ginger in Shandong Province have plowed it under and switched to growing peanuts after a China Central Television (CCTV) report on Saturday revealed their illegal use of a restricted chemical.
Farmers in more than 10 villages in Xiashan district of Weifang, used the pesticide aldicarb to grow ginger they sold locally, but would not consume themselves, the CCTV report said.
The pesticide is absorbed by the plant and can cause harm to both farmers and consumers, Wang Jing, a Greenpeace campaigner, told the Global Times.
"Pesticides can be only used after they are registered for use on certain crops," Wang said, "Aldicarb was never registered for use on ginger crops."
The agriculture ministry in 2010 stipulated that aldicarb cannot be used to grow vegetables, fruit, tea or herbal medicines. The pesticide can be used on crops such as cotton, peanuts and tobacco, with strict limits on the amount that can be applied.
The CCTV report said the use of the toxic pesticide far exceeded set limits, and showed discarded packaging littering the farm fields.
The report pointed out that ginger grown in the area is destined for the domestic market and was not as strictly supervised as ginger crops in the neighboring city of Anqiu, where ginger is grown for export and overuse of aldicarb would be readily detected by foreign customs agencies.
Police have verified that the use of the pesticide did not cover a large area, and that only three families in two villages used it, an officer surnamed Xu from Wangjiazhuang subdistrict office, told the Global Times.
Xu said that all the ginger that had the pesticide applied to it was plowed under on Sunday and farmers had planted peanuts.
"Those who used the pesticide bought it and used it secretly," Xu said, adding the city banned the sale of aldicarb in 2006.
A staff member surnamed Chen from the agency for testing agricultural products in Anqiu told the Global Times that they have strictly monitored the use of chemical pesticide for years.
"The main reason we attach such importance to the pesticide use is because our products are mainly exported overseas."
Such quality checks do not exist in the wholesale domestic markets that sell agricultural products, Wang from Greenpeace said.
"Exported products must be first checked by inspection and quarantine agencies and then rechecked after arriving at oversea ports," Wang added.