Vegetables are sick – Hunan Liuyang cadmium pollution

| November 21st, 2009

20091120-sick-vegetables-02

(picture: A polluted eggplant)

[Southern Metropolis Daily] In July and August of this year, the Hunan Liuyang cadmium pollution incident caused nationwide concerns. It has been three to months since the incident, chemical plant was permanently closed, the relevant officials were suspended from their positions and affected farmers also received a certain amount of compensation. Recently the photographer went back to Liuyang, to some of the affected areas and shot a set of portraits for the crops. These terminally ill fruits and vegetables tell us the disaster has not yet ended.

Vegetables are sick – Hunan Liuyang cadmium pollution

By Southern Metropolis Daily reporter Fang Qianhua

[pro-player width=’550′ height=’310′ type=’video’ image=’http://www.chinahush.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/20091120sickvegetables01.jpg’]http://www.chinahush.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/20091120-sick-vegetables.flv[/pro-player]

July of this year my partner Yang Xiaohong and I went to Liuyang in Hunan province together to cover the incident of cadmium pollution. Centered at Xianghe chemical factory which was the source of the cadmium pollution, the fields within 1.5 kilo-meter radius were seriously polluted with cadmium.

At the time, the amount of the cadmium content in majority of the villagers’ body seriously exceeded the standard level. Some of them were very young babies. Apart from this, large tracts of contaminated farmland and crops were too horrible to look at. Those once familiar fruits and vegetables in the field became grotesque and disfigured beyond recognition, making people feel nausea and fearful when looking at them.

November of this year I once again returned back to the polluted areas to investigate and found many farmland were deserted, rarely seen crops. However after walked through many villages we could still see some remaining fruits and vegetables in the corners of the deserted fields. Because they were never cleared away, after a few months of pollution they have become more deformed, more shocking. In order to find crops suitable for the photo shoot, I went there 4 times to couple of the villages to look for those polluted vegetables. To me, these deformed and sick fruits and vegetables are like a group of special patients.

Photography: Fang Qianhua

Video: Qiao Yanjie

9 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Randy says:

    The best way to get a message accross, is by touching the hearts of people… Yet in order to solve an environmental problem, we need to apply different sources of creativity and other skills of mindfullness.
    I have some experience as a field worker in soil sanitation. As such I have encountered many different types of soil and water contamination. Not all pollutions are alike. Some are quite easy, others are tough to handle. Keep in mind this happens in all industrialized areas of the world. Yet these issues can only be resolved and controlled, if its urgency is acknowledged and the proper measures are established and accounted for.

  2. Xiao Wang says:

    Facts coming up. It’s probably a much larger area that has been affected. Soon farmers will plant there again (it’s money after all, so why care about poisoning the people they sell the crops to). I bet a great deal of the vegetables, crops and meat we eat here in China would never pass Western inspections. Pesticieds, hormones, antibiotics, all kinds of stuff. Actually I prefer not to think about it coz I doubt we can avoid it under the current conditions.

  3. Randy says:

    Good; facts is what we need. Meanwhile from the outside it looks like the Chinese people are very ambitious in one sense; yet much too passive in another. You simply cannot afford to wait until all these issues are properly regulated on a national scale. In my opinion the environmental policy should be multi-lateral, even universal, yet that does not exclude local communities from taking their own responsability. They need to stand up, and act – take matter in their own hands, even if this might go against their deeply rooted cultural impulses – because there will be nobody there in time to save them or their children. “To prefer not to think about it” is a common human reaction, when confronted with complex issues like these. Yet I’m afraid this will not do in this case. This is not merely a bad dream. The threat is real. There’s not much time left. Your house is on fire. If we let it happen, the consequences will cost us all dearly. So you have to wake up basically. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now….

  4. Anti GM Rice says:

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9E2G73G2.htm

    Expert: China GM rice may be market-ready by 2013
    By ALEXA OLESEN

    STORY TOOLS

    BEIJING

    Chinese strains of genetically modified corn and rice that were given safety approvals last year could be ready for sale in China in about three years, a biotechnology researcher said Wednesday.

    Genetically modified rice that is resistant to certain insects and corn that helps pigs absorb more nutrients were given biosafety certificates by the Chinese government in November, possibly paving the way for a new wave of GM cultivation in the world’s most populous nation.

    For the past decade, China has allowed farmers to grow cotton that was engineered to prevent bollworm infestations, but it has yet to allow genetically modified food staples like rice. The Chinese government hopes higher-yielding GM crops could ease chronic food shortages and curb the use of polluting fertilizers and pesticides.

    Huang Dafang, director of the Biotechnology Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said that it will take at least three years for the two strains to be ready for sale in China because field trials must first check the quality and long-term viability of the seeds.

    “It will take at least three years to achieve commercialization,” Huang told reporters at a news conference in Beijing. “I don’t think China will deny the applications. I have full confidence in that and am optimistic that they will be approved.”

    Asked to respond to concerns about the possible health risks of the products, Huang insisted they were safe.

    “GM rice and phytase maize are as safe as non-GM rice and maize,” he said. “They are safe to consume but of course we need to do more public education work and reach more of the population to educate them about this.”

    Huang said phytase maize is engineered to help pigs and chickens absorb more phosphate to help them grow. It also reduces the amount of polluting phosphate excreted by the animals, he said.

    Greenpeace and other critics of GM foods say the long-term safety of such products has yet to be proven.

    Lorena Luo, a food and agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace China, said the organization is urging the Chinese government to halt the rice and corn field tests.

    “We are very concerned about the situation of GM rice and corn in China, particularly rice because it’s eaten by nearly every single person in China, including babies who eat it as cereal,” Luo said. “There’s not enough evidence to prove it’s safe.”

  5. non-GM Food says:

    http://www.meattradenewsdaily.co.uk/news/150210/china___big_push_on_gm_crops_.aspx
    http://brownfieldagnews.com/2009/11/27/china-approves-bt-rice-and-g-m-corn/
    http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article113016.ece
    http://bulletin.sciencebusiness.net/ebulletins/showissue.php3?page=/548/art/17035&ch=1
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/genetic-engineering/hands-off-our-rice
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/photosvideos/greenpeace-photo-essays/rice-photoessay-traditional-china

    November 27, 2009 by Bob Meyer

    Reuters says China has approved a strain of genetically modified rice and a GM corn for commercial production. Two members of the Chinese Ministry Agriculture’s Biosecurity Committee say bio-safety certificates have been issued to the Huazhong Agricultural University for a Bt variety of rice and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science for a type of phytase corn.
    China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rice. The Bt rice is expected to reduce pesticide use by 80 percent while increasing productivity by 8 percent. The corn is designed to increase phosphorus digestibility in hogs thus reducing phosphorus run-off.
    Both products need to go through registration and field trials but should be ready for large-scale production in two to three years.

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