From the Chinese Press

Updated: 2013-05-09 08:07

(China Daily)

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Tainted ginger a health hazard

China Central Television recently reported that farmers in Weifang city, Shandong province, have been using shennongdan, a highly toxic pesticide made from aldicarb, in ginger fields. It's even shocking to know that shennongdan-contaminated ginger was meant to be sold only in domestic markets, because the farmers dare not use toxic pesticides in fields where ginger is grown for exports because foreign countries have extremely strict inspection standards for chemical residue, says an article in the Beijing News. Excerpts:

The different types of pesticides used in ginger fields show how lax regulation and inspection of food safety is in China. Though authoritative test reports are yet to confirm how dangerous shennongdan-contaminated ginger sold in the market is, experts say that 50 milligrams of aldicarb is enough to kill a person weighing 50 kilograms.

Farmers have for long known the harm shennongdan can cause and don't consume ginger from the fields where toxic pesticide is used. But what is surprising is that despite being sold in the market, shennongdan-contaminated ginger has not been identified during food safety inspections from their source of origin to markets across China.

Authorities in Shandong have launched a crackdown on illegal sale of aldicarb and destroyed toxic ginger and Chinese onion crops. But food safety officials have to tighten inspection and be more accountable to improve the overall supervision mechanism.

Domestic food producers employ double standard for products meant for exports and the domestic market. According to statistics from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, 86 percent of dairy products meant for the domestic market meet the national standards while the figure for exported milk products is 98 percent.

To ensure total food safety, it's imperative that the authorities improve inspection standards for chemical residue, strengthen legislation, encourage media supervision and publicize food inspection results.

The woes of the middle class

The ten new standards for white-collar workers' income, housing, lifestyle and job profile have triggered heated public discussions. Increasing the incomes of the middle class is a good way of narrowing the wealth gap and should be promoted at the institutional level, says an article on Excerpts:

Although it may be normal for fresh university graduates to have a lower income than some less-educated people and white-collar workers to be the most disadvantaged group according to experts, it is indisputable that the gap between them and the affluent group is widening.

Since the change in the threshold of individual income tax, the low-income group has paid less tax and the high-income people have managed to evade paying taxes commensurate with their incomes. But white-collar workers have been paying income tax as usual.

According to the theory of sociology, the emergence of middle class gives every member of society the hope to climb up to a higher class and helps alleviate social confrontation caused by the wealth gap. An olive-shaped social structure balances social resources and makes people feel secure.

The new standards for white-collar workers' income, housing, lifestyle and job profile reflect people's helpless state of self-mockery as well as their yearning to change things for the better. Only if the maladies in the income distribution system are rectified and measures are taken to form an olive-shaped wealth distribution pattern can white-collar workers live a relatively decent life and social harmony be promoted.

(China Daily 05/09/2013 page9)