Once growing in forests and only picked at certain times of the year, Chinese herbs are now grown on an industrial scale and reliant on the use of pesticides.
Greenpeace bought herb samples from a handful of renowned herb growing regions in China. They also purchased samples of herbal medicine from nine different cities (including Hong Kong) and from nine companies' for pesticide testing.
The results of Greenpeace's investigation reveal the herbs contained a cocktail of pesticide residues. Many of these pesticides are illegal in China or classified as ‘highly hazardous’ or ‘extremely hazardous’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report concluded that exposure to pesticides via food consumption poses a significant risk to health, namely the possibility of bioaccumulation within the body. Chronic pesticide poisoning may even lead to learning difficulties, hormone disruption and reproductive abnormalities.
Greenpeace East Asia is urging the Chinese government to impose stricter supervision and control of illegal pesticides, provide clear pesticides reduction timelines and commit to a road map to fully phase out chemical pesticides in agriculture.
Additionally, they call on the Chinese authorities to divert financial funding towards more ecological farming practices and are campaiging to raise global awareness and strive towards a pesticide-free future.
Greenpeace hope that by doing so we can heal Chinese herbs.
Greenpeace East Asia is also calling on the Chinese herb companies to publicly disclose all pesticides used in the production of their products and to provide a timeline aimed at reducing their usage.