WASHINGTON – You might think in this age of globalization with Chinese imports dominating American store shelves that U.S. officials have worked out safety regulations on food, drugs and other products with their counterparts in Beijing.
You would be wrong.
In fact, it appears WND’s series of explosive investigative reports into threats to life and limb from Chinese products got enough attention from U.S. lawmakers to begin the process of developing standards and increasing inspections.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“I think we have reached a point, unfortunately, where ‘made in China’ is now a warning label in the United States,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Durbin specifically referenced statistics gathered in WND’s investigation of product recalls from China. WND found most of the Consumer Product Safety recalls involved imports from China. Imports from China were recalled by the CPSC twice as often as products made everywhere else in the world, including the U.S., the study of government reports showed.
Concerns with China imports began with the pet-food scandal that killed or maimed up to 39,000 American cats and dogs. WND’s investigation followed into imports of foods meant for human consumption. The New York Times and other major U.S. media followed.
As WND reported, China, the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S., is raising most of its fish products in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the FDA.
The stunning news followed WND’s report that FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.
China consistently has topped the list of countries whose products were refused by the FDA – and that list includes many countries, including Mexico and Canada, who export far more food products to the U.S. than China.
While less than half of Asia has access to sewage treatment plants, aquaculture – the raising of seafood products – has become big business on the continent, especially in China.
In China, No. 1 in aquaculture in the world, 3.7 billion tons of sewage is discharged into rivers, lakes and coastal water – some of which are used by the industry. Only 45 percent of China has any sewage-treatment facilities, putting the country behind the rest of Asia.
Durbin and Sen. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., held joint talks with FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong over the contaminated shipments from China. The senators claimed a victory in the form of a proposed agreement between the FDA and Chinese government and a commitment for increased food inspections from the FDA.
“This proposed agreement between the FDA and the Chinese government is a significant breakthrough in terms of food safety – and American consumers stand to be the big winners,” said Durbin.
In addition, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson raised the issue last month with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi. When she returned to China, Beijing promised to overhaul its food safety rules. Also, China sentenced to death Liu Pingjun, the former head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Qaurantine.
China exports about $2 billion of food products to the U.S. every year and the total is rapidly growing. According to all U.S. food authorities, China is by far the biggest violator of food safety standards.
China is the second-largest source of imports for the U.S. while the U.S. is China’s largest overseas market and second-largest source of foreign direct investment.