Wuhan 'not enough of a friend': official

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-02 07:18
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BEIJING: The local agricultural department in southernmost Hainan province has blamed its counterpart in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, for breaking an unspoken rule by letting the public know about toxic cowpeas.

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Hainan's vegetable sales have suffered a setback after a highly toxic pesticide was detected in cowpeas grown in the area and sold across the country.

The Wuhan agriculture bureau released the information on Feb 21, saying that 3.5 tons of toxic cowpeas, from several counties in Sanya of Hainan, had been seized and destroyed.

Later, toxic cowpeas from Hainan were also found in markets in Guangdong, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces.

However, faced with such a big food safety scandal, Sanya agricultural authorities said they could not understand why Wuhan released the information, because such issues usually remain internal, China National Radio reported on Monday.

"It (the release of the information) did not save face for Sanya, nor save face for the Ministry of Agriculture," Zhou Qingchong, deputy director of the law enforcement team of the Sanya agricultural bureau, was quoted as saying.

According to unspoken rules, Wuhan should have just informed Sanya, and the latter would have sent out investigation teams to find the source, Zhou said.

"Wuhan is really not enough of a friend," he was quoted as saying.

After the exposure of toxic cowpeas from Hainan, the price of cowpeas from the tropic island dropped from its peak of 6 yuan (88 cents) per kg to 0.8 yuan per kg, the Economic Information Daily reported on Monday.

"No purchaser will take my cowpeas. I will have to sell them for whatever I can get, or use them to feed the pigs," Chen Meihua, a farmer from Yingzhou town in Sanya, was quoted as saying. Sales of Hainan vegetables have dropped by one-third, the Shenzhen Evening News also reported on Monday.

"Many customers are asking where the vegetables come from. Nobody dares to buy Hainan-grown ones," an official from a local food market in Shenzhen said.

Wang yan / China Daily