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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Organic labeling can be food for thought

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

08:19, December 29, 2011

(Wang Xiaoying / China Daily)

The Beijing Organic Farmers Fair is reaping a harvest of popularity. Followers of its micro blog at grew to almost 22,000 in less than a year. The fair, held monthly last year, is now a weekly attraction.

Moreover, the location has shifted from the suburban Changping district to centers such as the capital's swanky Sanlitun area.

There is just one problem. Despite the fair bearing an "organic" stamp, few of the farmers participating have actually received any certification confirming organic status.

"How can you claim your products are organic when you don't have the certificate?" asked Sun Dewei, who runs a small farm in Shunyi district.

Sun said his farm operates in a way that's as close as possible to, but is still not completely, organic. "Whether it (the certificate) really works or not, it is the only legal way in China to carry the organic label," he said.

A number of food safety cases have erupted recently. As a result, consumers, especially the middle class who can afford and are willing to pay higher prices for healthier food, are enthusiastically chasing organic products because they believe them to be safer and healthier.

However, insiders and experts say that being safe is simply the bottom line for organic food. In China, not only is the term "organic" being abused, but the part it can play in promoting food security has also been overestimated as a result of the high-end nature of the food and the disorganized nature of the industry.

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Canada at 2011-12-3070.36.49.*
It"s doubtful that much of the food here labelled organic actually is organic, some investigations have found it not to be organic, but the prices are substantially higher.

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