Date
27 July 2017
The government is being urged to pass legislation to regulate the organic vegetable market to discourage suppliers from making false claims about their products. Photo: HKEJ
The government is being urged to pass legislation to regulate the organic vegetable market to discourage suppliers from making false claims about their products. Photo: HKEJ

Pesticides found in local, mainland organic vegetables

Many consumers prefer organic vegetables, although they cost more, because they are grown naturally without the use of chemicals and therefore are considered safer and healthier to eat.

However, a recent study on organic vegetables from local and mainland farms showed that what consumers get is not exactly what they want in most cases, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, a biology professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University and director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre, which is under the university, urged the government to step up monitoring on farms that grow organic vegetables.

The center collected 58 samples of vegetables from wet markets, supermarkets and organic markets in Hong Kong between October and January and test them for the presence of pesticides.

Laboratory findings showed that 71 percent of so-called organic vegetables from local farms in the samples contained pesticide residues and the ratio for those imported from the mainland was even higher at 83 percent.

As for non-organic samples, the ratios were 90 and 88 percent, respectively.

The center also found that 22 percent of the samples certified locally as organic vegetables and 27 percent of those certified in the mainland were also contaminated with pesticides.

A sample from Mei Foo Farm Fest was found to contain 1.69 mg of acetamiprid, a pesticide, exceeding the official standard of 1.2 mg, while another sample collected from Tai Po Farmers’ Market also had pesticide residues.

The center has removed two local farms which supplied the contaminated vegetables from its list of organic farms, Wong said.

He called on the government to pass legislation to regulate the market so that suppliers of organic vegetables will dare not make false claims about their products, Sing Tao Daily reported.

The center will enhance its sampling efforts to maintain the public’s trust in its certification, Wong said.

But he also called on the government to offer more help to farms when their harvests are hit by unfavorable weather, or they may be forced to use pesticides to save their produce.

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TL/AC/CG

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