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Probe finds pesticides in tea products

By Zou Le (Global Times)

10:54, April 12, 2012

A Greenpeace investigation has found pesticides banned for use in tea in products marketed by some of China's top tea companies, including China Tea, Tenfu Tea and China Tea King.

The result is based on tests of 18 tea products that the organization bought from nine tea companies in December 2011 and January 2012. The tea products, including green tea, oolong tea and jasmine tea, were purchased from stores in Beijing, Chengdu and Haikou.

Independent testing conducted by an accredited lab found that 12 of the 18 samples contained at least one pesticide banned from use in tea, such as methomyl and endosulfan, Greenpeace said Wednesday.

At least one tea company denied the allegations. A customer representative with Tenfu Tea, a Fujian-based tea company, who only gave his surname Li, told the Global Times that all of their products have passed quality tests from authorities before being sold on the market and no complaints about pesticide residues have been received so far.

China was the world's largest tea consumption and production country in 2010, according to a UN report last month.

China is also the world's largest pesticide consumer and producer, according to the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

The Greenpeace investigation also found that all 18 tea samples contained at least three pesticides, with 17 pesticides found in one sample. A total of 14 samples were found to have pesticides that may affect fertility, harm unborn children or cause heritable genetic damage, it said.

"Large tea producers have every reason to take action immediately and reduce pesticide use substantially," said Wang Jing, Greenpeace's Food and Agriculture campaigner.

The organization urged China's tea companies to establish an effective traceability and supply chain control system that ensures the reduction of pesticide use and its compliance with the law.

Lin Yan, a researcher with the Beijing Pesticide Association, told the Global Times that despite being banned, many tea farmers still use more toxic pesticide as they are less costly and more effective.

"Judging from the test results, most of the residue levels are far below the national standard so people do not need to panic," Lin said.

Chinese authorities have taken note of the problem of rampant pesticide use in China. The MOA said in January that it aims to reduce nationwide pesticide use in 2015 by 20 percent.

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