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Tighter pesticide, baby milk rules viewed

DATE:2015-04-22       SOURCE:China Daily
 

Some NPC members say proposals not strong enough, and bans need deadlines

 

The country's top legislature is moving toward much tougher food safety laws on highly toxic pesticides and baby milk formula powders.

 

A draft revision to the Food Safety Law introduces a ban on the use of highly toxic pesticides in the farming of vegetables, fruits, herbs and tea.

 

The law was enacted in 2009 and was put forward for its third reading on Monday.

 

On Friday, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will vote on the draft, which is likely to be ratified.

 

Twelve types of highly toxic pesticides will still be allowed in farming, including phorate and methomyl, accounting for less than 3 percent of the total number of pesticides, according to figures provided by the Agriculture Ministry.

 

The ministry said China has made continuous efforts to reduce the number of highly toxic pesticides used over the past 30 years and has banned 33 types of such products since the 1980s.

 

It advised the legislative body to postpone a complete ban on the use of all highly toxic pesticides and said some have to be used to prevent outbreaks of crop disease.

 

However, some members of the NPC say the proposed rules are still not tough enough, and they cite the lack of a timetable for banning the pesticides as the main shortcoming.

 

Pang Lijuan, a member of the Standing Committee, and several other deputies to the NPC, argued that a timetable for the elimination of highly toxic pesticides should be written into the law if it is impossible or unnecessary to impose a complete ban on them now.

 

Ren Maodong, a member of the legal affairs committee of the NPC, believed that it is time to eliminate pesticides from the market and he recommended curbing the production and supply instead of purely exercising obligations on farmers.

 

The draft amendment also requires producers of baby milk formula powders to register their products with the food and drug regulatory body.

 

1,900 varieties

In an earlier draft, submitted in December, the provision on powdered baby milk formula stipulated that firms should only ensure their formulas were on record.

 

There are more than 1,900 varieties of baby milk formula powder available in China and each company has around 20 varieties, whereas in other countries firms produce and sell two or three, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

 

"Some producers make new formulas for infant powder without substantial changes from the existing ones but purely create them for market promotion," said the lawmakers.

 

"This review of infant formula legislation aims to ensure infant food safety."

 

The draft didn't include the lawmakers' call for a ban on producers commissioning others to produce their powder and then selling it under the original producer's name and branding.

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