Greenpeace demands for clear standards for residual pesticides

Press release - 2007-01-24
Greenpeace offered a bottle of toxic fruits to Mr. York Chow, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, today before the Legislative Council Motion debate for food safety. The group strongly condemns the SAR government’s incompetence and insensitivity to legislate for food safety, and demands Mr. Chow to present the timeframe for drafting food safety legislation immediately in the Council meeting. Greenpeace regrets the government’s failure to declare a timeframe for food safety legislation.

Mr. York Chow admitted in the Legislative Council that Hong Kong has no pesticide residues standard which renders law enforcement ineffective. The Expert Committee of Food Safety also recommends that setting standards for residual pesticides for fruit and vegetable should be prioritized.

Greenpeace Food Safety Assistant Campaigner Chow Yuen-ping said, "Despite the recent flood of food safety scandals in the territory, the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau is still 'considering' and 'researching' what they can do. Citizens' health is at risk and Greenpeace urges the government to take action by urgently announcing a timeframe for food safety legislation to show their determination to safeguard consumer health by stemming the flow of toxic food."

In the meantime, Greenpeace expressed strong doubts to the Center for Food Safety's (CFS) response to the group's latest pesticide test on fruits. It was claimed by the CFS that its own testing results on 350 fruit samples on pesticide residues and heavy metal content were satisfactory. However, Chow Yuen-ping rebuffed that the response only further expressed loopholes and inconsistence in CFS's inspection system which lacks clear guidelines and standards.

Greenpeace released its newest test results of pesticide on fruits and vegetables yesterday. 4 out of the 5 sample were found contaminated by highly toxic pesticides. A sample was found to contain methamidophos, a banned pesticide of high toxicity, including popularly consumed strawberry and tangerines. One sample was even found contaminated by 13 types of pesticides.

Greenpeace exposed pesticide contaminated vegetables in Hong Kong supermarkets last April and subsequently found again in Guangzhou that fruits and vegetables contained illegal pesticide in June. In the past year, Greenpeace has repeatedly demanded the government to stop problem fruits coming into Hong Kong. However, the test results showed once again fruits and vegetables are not yet safe to be consumed.

Greenpeace believes that government must set clear standards for residual pesticides, establish laws to monitor food import by setting up a licensing system for suppliers, implement mandatory inspections at the border as well as impose a traceability system for food supply.