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Tainted-apple report sparks investigation

By Zheng Xin and Zhao Ruixue (China Daily)

08:36, June 13, 2012

An apple is wrapped in a bag to protect it from damage at an orchard in Zhaoyuan county of Yantai, a major apple production area, in East China's Shandong province, on May 29. (Da Lu / for China Daily)

Shandong province authorities are investigating allegations of illegally covering apples in orchards with pesticide-filled bags to protect the fruit from insects and damage from branches and weather.

Farmers usually use the fruit bags to cover and protect growing fruit from the insecticides that growers spray on fruit trees. Putting pesticides in the bags is illegal.

Agricultural authorities opened the investigation after a newspaper reported that some farmers in Yantai, China's major apple growing area, were illegally using pesticides in the bags.

Beijing News reported on Monday that individual growers use bags that are contaminated with hazardous chemicals inside.

"We haven't come to any conclusion yet in the investigation," said Yang Lijian, director of the pesticide inspection department of the Shandong Agriculture Bureau, when reached by China Daily on Tuesday.

However, Yang said the government pledged to end the use of apple bags contaminated with pesticide-like chemicals if they are found, and to close any workshops that made them.

According to Yang, an investigation of pesticide residue on the ripe fruit from local farmers in September 2011 revealed that some farmers were using bags with pesticide inside.

The Yantai government found in 2010 that some orchard workers applied diluted pesticides inside fruit bags. The pesticides included tuzet and asomate, which are prohibited from such usage.

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