China’s Toxic Seafood Dilemma

By Dina Eliash Robinson

China is in a double Catch-22 bind.

The first set consists of, on one hand, the country’s huge export industry of farm-raised seafood (some 54 million tons last year alone) is experiencing rejections and decrease in demand, due to the latter’s high content of illegal veterinary drugs and other toxic substances.

On the other hand, without the drugs, no marine creature could survive the heavy pollution of untreated sewage, industrial waste and pesticide-laden agricultural runoff, which afflicts most of China’s waterways. Overcrowded conditions in the country’s aquaculture ponds also require the use of toxic fungicides.

China is also trying to find a way out of the Catch-22 snare of criticism for its lax regulations of seafood farms, on one hand, and the government’s concern, on the other hand, that more stringent enforcement of food-safety rules might put a damper on the Chinese economy’s rapid growth.

So for now, the country’s trading partners are left with promises that China will upgrade its production standards and make environmental improvements in its aquaculture.
See China’s new production guidelines.

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