Here at Greenpeace we're demanding the major supermarkets completely halt their use of illegal pesticides or at levels exceeding the legal limit, then ban the worst of the worst pesticide use immediately for their fresh and unpacked produce and finally absolutely no selling of GE food. And we're not only walking up to the head offices of these chain supermarkets and demanding it - we're hauling them into court and doing it.
In Beijing we're bringing in Tesco to the Beijing Secondary People's Court (北京市第二中级法院), while in Shanghai Lianhua will have to answer for their illegal activities at the Shanghai District Court (上海地方法院).
Greenpeace campaigners deliver a clear message to Tesco.
This follows our recent report
that revealed the two supermarkets' dirty pesticide habit. Examples included a green vegetable from Tesco turning up methamidophos and monocrotophos, the use of which has been prohibited in China since the beginning of year 2007. And at Lianhua a Chinese leek sample contained pesticide residue procymidone levels of 1.05 mg/kg (far exceeding the Chinese MRL standard of 0.02 mg/kg).
Not only are we asking them to immediately halt these illegal activities, we're also asking they issue a formal apology and establish a strict quality control system.
As for those of you living in Mainland China worried about what's in your fruit and veggies, China-based blogger Ryan Mclaughlin of Lost Laowai listed some practical tips to possibly reduce the amount of pesticides you consume next time you're eating and cooking. We also wanted to add a few more tips to Lost Laowai's advice:
Shop using Greenpeace East Asia's annual rankings of China's major supermarkets. We based these on their no usage of genetically engineered food, ban on the worst of the worst categories of pesticide use, establishment of product traceability and control systems and information transparency.
And think about going organic. To borrow from our organic food guide FAQ: "Organic agriculture rejects the use of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormone and artificial livestock feed additives. It also does not involve GE and its by-products. It's a healthy and sustainable agricultural production method."
The guide's FAQ has a full rundown on what organic food is, and how to identify it in China. There are several certifications for both food and tea. Yes, organic food is more expensive. But when you take into account the hidden costs of chemical intensive agriculture (we're talking soil degradation, water pollution, human health) it's pretty clear who the winner is in the long-term.
Additionally, China's relatively small organic food industry is still in the 'boutique' stage. But the more people who purchase organic food, the cheaper or more competitive organic food prices will become.
For (slightly outdated) listings of organic food stores see our "Beijing Organic Guide 2008" and "2006 Hong Kong 'Go Organic' Guide". The Beijinger also has a list of organic food restaurants in Beijing. In the comment section below we'd love to hear from anyone living in East Asia with tips about organic food shopping in your city.
Like anything in China, when it comes to organic food shopping one has to be wary of quality and standards. We hope one day the big guys at the top will apply their own exceptional food standards to the rest of the country. The huge amount of interest from the public following our pesticides campaign gives us reason to believe things will change.
Inform your friends by sharing this piece, then friend Greenpeace on Facebook or Twitter so you can stay in the loop as we continue to demand accountability from these big supermarket chains.
Greenpeace's 2010 Chinese supermarket rankings (from best to worst):
1. Tied: Carrefour, Auchan
3. Shanghai City Shop
4. Beijing Ito Yokado
5. Huapu (Jian Mart)
6. Aeon & Jusco Beijing (North China)
9. Wellcome (Hong Kong)
11. Tied: HuaLian (including Lianhua, Hualian, and Century Mart), Lotus, Jusco (South China), Jusco (Hong Kong), Park and Shop, Chaoshifa, Jingkelong, and Wu-mart
19. Tied: Chengdu Ito Yokado, Tesco