Toxic fish from China
Fish farming has become an enormous international business, and nowhere is it bigger than in China, where 115 billion pounds of farmed fish were produced in 2006. As food imports from China increase, it is becoming more apparent that the safety of this important supply of imported food cannot be assumed. The New York Times reported on December 15, 2007, that much of the fish farming that produces Chinese exports is carried on in bodies of water that are polluted by all forms of toxins: human waste, industrial byproducts, illegal veterinary drugs and pesticides are all introduced into the water supply--either inadvertently or purposely--resulting in exposure to various forms of cancer-causing substances and bacteria. Currently the regulatory scheme to detect and control these problems does not exist in China and is not being implemented by food exporters or importers.
While Thailand--another major supplier of fish to the U.S. market--has experienced only two fish rejections at the U.S. border this year, a single Chines supplier, Fuqing, has experienced 43 rejections in 2007 alone. In response, the U.S. and Chinese governments recently signed a half-measure that would begin to regulate the conditions under which food farming is conducted. Unfortunately, given the magnitude of the problem, and the manner in which Chinese government authorities elevate production over environment in all respects, it is unlikely that recent agreements will have a significant impact.