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Migrant Worker in the Mo' Spin Zone

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56http://blogs.princeton.edu/pia/personal/epay/aka Even Pay, a fellow at the Pesticide Eco-Alternatives Center here in Kunming, was recently interviewed forhttp://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_42/b4005007.htm#, entitled 'Why the stink over China's organic food?' in US-based business magazine BusinessWeek.

The story is a masterpiece of alarmism that inexplicably gives more credibility to unnamed sources than to cited experts in the field, including Even and the head of the US Department of Agriculture's organic department. Here are the major offenses:

1. The piece starts off stating China is 'getting skewered for churning out cheap organic food', yet nowhere in the article does a person with a name say anything negative about China's organic produce. There are numerous references to 'critics' of China's organic agriculture, but none are named.

2. The first quote, attributed to an unnamed US consultant working in China who considers China meeting US Department of Agriculture standards 'a joke': "U.S. laws do not work in China."' One: anybody can call themselves a consultant. Two: Unless there is a plan to impose US law on the world, (cough, cough), why would it be imperative that US laws 'work' in other countries?

3. The closing sentence: 'Even with these safeguards in place, however, making sure that every carrot, cabbage, and strawberry imported from China meets USDA standards is impossible.' Hmm, so even though the USDA says there have been no problems with organic produce from China, Americans should not trust organic food from China because every single item of produce cannot be accounted for. It's good to see that in modern American journalism kneejerk suspicion of everything Chinese trumps those pesky 'experts' and 'facts' that can often clash with one's prejudices.

We don't want to talk too much trash, we understand that China can seem frightening over in New York — where the story was written.

The money quote in this story comes from Barbara Robinson, head of the USDA's National Organic Program, who said her department had received no complaints about Chinese organic produce that had entered the US, adding: 'I don't know why everybody picks on China.' We'd fare to say that scaremongering articles such as this one could explain some of the distrust of China on the other side of the Pacific.

For her part, Even - who unlike BusinessWeek's unnamed consultant is a true expert on agriculture in China - eloquently explains her stance on organic agriculture in China in this post which BusinessWeek should have run in place of its fear-fuelled propaganda, which almost borders on bioxenophobia.

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