For nearly two decades, Lai Mandai regularly ate and sold beans, cabbage and watermelons grown on a plot of land a short walk from a lead smelting plant in her village.Mmmm. Lead-flavored beans and cabbage! Sounds like we can make a tasty vegetable stock from that.
Like dozens of other villagers who ate locally grown food, Ms. Lai, 39 years old, developed health problems. "When I did work, planting vegetables or cleaning the floor, I felt so tired, and my fingers felt numb," Ms. Lai says. "I talked with other villagers. They had the same problems."
Concerns have since soared over the safety of the country's exports. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently told consumers to stop buying toothpaste made in China because it might contain poisonous diethylene glycol. Last week, the FDA sounded an alarm on farm-raised seafood from China, citing excessive levels of antibiotics and additives.Hey, man, this doesn't have anything to do with global warming. Why are we talking about it? It's not like this is something the environmental movement would be concerned about.
Yet after decades of industrial pollution, some of the worst contaminants making their way into the country's food come from the soil in which it is grown. So far it hasn't been determined the extent to which tainted crops such as rice, fruits and vegetables have been exported to the U.S. What is clear is that in contaminated areas dotting the country, residents have been eating such food for years or decades.
China's soil is also compromised by waste from the thousands of private and public mines that dot the country. Last year, a group of Chinese scientists published a study that found the soil and vegetables around an abandoned lead and zinc mine a few hours outside of Shanghai was contaminated with heavy metals...Slag that the miners had excavated from the mountain was left in piles near farmland, allowing rain to wash the metals into nearby fields.Dude, just chill. It's all just another spice, right? Sounds delicious. Dig in!
Chinese scientists tested samples of soil and vegetables, including cabbage, chrysanthemum and spinach grown in the area around the mine, near Shaoxing in Zhejiang province. The soil's zinc level was 20 times higher, and cadmium levels 30 times higher, than the maximum heavy-metal concentrations allowed under China's national soil-quality standards.
The authors of the study, which was published in February 2006 in the Netherlands-based scientific journal Environmental Geochemistry and Health, concluded that soil near the mine "was unsuitable for agricultural use." Because of high levels of cadmium, lead and arsenic, the vegetables "could not be regarded as safe for human consumption," they wrote.
On the front page of Greenpeace's web site, we see articles about global warming, but nothing about China. Oh, and there's a good one blasting Exxon. %!&%* Americans! A search on their site for "China" reveals that it's all the fault of the West. The top 5 hits had to do with e-Waste, or the waste products caused by manufacturing high tech products.
Man, I hate those Americans. They're ruining everything.