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Archive for October 18th, 2008

China Food Import Alert

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

Tainted beans from China sicken three in Japan

Frozen green imports had high level of insecticide

(Kyodo News) An extremely high concentration of insecticide has been detected in frozen green beans imported from China, causing a woman in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji and two other people in Chiba Prefecture to fall ill, reports said Wednesday.

The 56-year-old woman bought the beans Saturday and ate some of them Sunday, the Hachioji health department said. She started vomiting from the foul taste and smell and later experienced numbness in her mouth and more nausea.

The city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, said later Wednesday that two people experienced numbness of the tongue after eating beans from a package with the same lot number as the one in the Hachioji case. Police seized the remaining beans from the Kashiwa incident and were conducting checks.

The Hachioji health department said it detected 6,900 parts per million of the organophosphate insecticide dichlorvos in the beans, which is 34,500 times the government standard for imports.


A bag of green beans similar to the one that contained an extremely high level of insecticide dichlorvos. Photo:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government handout.

At that concentration, which the ministry said is nearly equal to an undiluted solution of the insecticide, eating just 0.07 gram of the beans could be enough to trigger acute symptoms in a 60-kg person, it said.

The beans were manufactured by Yantai Beihai Foodstuff Co. in Shandong Province and imported by Tokyo-based Nichirei Foods Inc. for sale under the Ingen brand.

Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters Wednesday that Tokyo will ask Beijing to work to improve the safety of exported food products from China. “(Food) products from China have caused problems in many places (for about a year),” he said.

This is not Yantai Beihai’s first tainted product. The ministry said it also detected unacceptable levels of the insecticide chlorpyrifos in another frozen bean product made by the company in 2002 that was exported to Japan. Although the concentration was 0.15 ppm, a level that shouldn’t cause immediate health problems in humans, the product had to be destroyed, it said.

A total of 265 tons of the frozen green beans have been imported in the past year. The government is warning consumers not to eat them and asking distributors to halt sales of the product until it can confirm what made the consumers sick. Quarantine offices nationwide have been ordered to halt import procedures for all food products from the Chinese company.

Frozen “gyoza” (dumplings) from China tainted with the agrochemical methamidophos sickened three families earlier this year in Chiba and Hyogo prefectures. It was later revealed that gyoza made by the same Chinese firm, containing the same pesticide, caused a food poisoning outbreak in China over the summer that Beijing authorities initially urged Japan not to report. Copyright Kyodo News

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has revealed that high concentrations of dichlorvos have been detected in foods imported from China on 14 different occasions since 2000. The contaminated products included  matsutake mushrooms, nonglutinous rice, vegetables, corn, frozen strawberries, dumplings and and herbal medicines.

Posted in frozen strawberries, methamidophos, Nichirei Foods Inc, Shandong Province, Yantai Beihai Foodstuff Co | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Stolen Forests

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

Inside the covert war on illegal logging

by Raffi Khatchadourian


Timber in the train station at Suifenhe, China. The country is now the world’s largest importer of logs and exporter of finished wood products. Photograph by Lu Guang. Source: The New Yorker. Image may b e subject to copyright.

The town of Suifenhe, a former Russian imperial outpost on the Trans-Siberian Railway, has belonged to China since the nineteen-forties, and occupies a broad valley in northern Manchuria. From a distance, its homes and factories appear to cling to a rail yard, with tracks fanning out into a vast latticework of iron as they emerge from the Russian border. Suifenhe is a place of singular purpose. Nearly every train from Russia brings in just one commodity: wood—oak, ash, linden, and other high-value species. There is also poplar, aspen, and larch, and occasionally great trunks of Korean pine, a species that was logged by the Soviets until there was almost none left to cut down. In a year, more than five billion pounds of wood cross over from Primorski Krai, the neighboring province in the Russian Far East. Hundreds of railcars enter Suifenhe every day, many loaded beyond capacity with logs. The wood is shuttled between mills by hand, often six men to a log. Other workers, many of whom are migrants from elsewhere in China, operate cranes to empty the rail carriages, and at sundown they bring the machinery to rest, with beams pointing upward, like arms outstretched, waiting for the rush of timber that will arrive the following day. More…

Posted in Ash, aspen, linden, oak, Trans-Siberian Railway | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Palin Fails to Block Beluga Whale Protection

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

“The [beluga whale] population is critically endangered.” —Craig Matkin of the North Gulf Oceanic Society

“… we believe that this endangered listing is premature.”—Sarah Palin, the high priestess of ethics, family values, energy and politics [sic.]

“We just aren’t sure that an endangered listing, and all the legal requirements it brings with it, is necessary to assure the health of this population at this time.” —Denby Lloyd, The Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner

Much to the annoyance of Gov Sarah [lipstick] Palin and her gang, beluga whales in Alaska was listed as endangered species. Having pressed “for a few years to get more population counts,” Palin called the listing “premature.”

“Hopefully the State of Alaska will now work toward protecting the beluga rather than, as with the polar bear, denying the science and suing to overturn the listing,” said Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity.


A beluga whale kisses a 4 yo boy, despite being held in captivity. Photo: Getty Images. Source: SMH. Image may be subject to copyright.

The population fell from about 650 in 1994 to a low of about 280 in 2005, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

NOAA says that beluga Whales in the Cook Inlet risk extinction and need strict protections under the Endangered Species Act.


Lower Cook Inlet region in south central Alaska. Credit: Alaska Volcano Observatory.

“In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” said James Balsinger at  NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“The science was clear — and it has been for a very long time,” said marine mammal scientist Craig Matkin of the North Gulf Oceanic Society. “The population is critically endangered.”

“The State of Alaska has had serious concerns about the low population of belugas in Cook Inlet for many years,”  Palin said after the NOAA decision. “However, we believe that this endangered listing is premature.” [Really?]

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner, Denby Lloyd, admitted that they had urged NOAA to delay the listing “for a few years to get more population counts.”

“Of course, whenever you have a population of marine mammals that is this low, it is a cause for serious concern … We just aren’t sure that an endangered listing, and all the legal requirements it brings with it, is necessary to assure the health of this population at this time.” Lloyd said.

[Note: There won’t be a next time after the population is extinct!]


Beluga Whale. Photo credit: NOAA. The critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population is one of the five distinct populations off Alaska, the only ones in U.S. waters.

“Various industry groups have also fought the listing, which they fear will hamper Cook Inlet oil and gas development, cargo shipping, commercial fishing and major construction projects. Reuters reported.

Conservation groups filed a petition some 9 years ago [March 1999] to list the beluga as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Posted in Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Cook Inlet, corporate interest, endangered listing, NOAA's Fisheries Service | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »