Greenpeace announced test results showing banned pesticides in products marketed by three of China’s top tea companies.
Independent laboratory results on 18 tea products purchased from nine tea companies during December 2011 and January 2012 showed traces of banned pesticides at levels below the national standard.
Teas were purchased in Beijing, Chengdu and Haikou. Varieties included green tea, oolong and jasmine.
Twelve of 18 samples from brands that include China Tea, Tenfu Tea and China Tea King showed residues of at least one banned substance. The most common pesticides were methomyl and endosulfan. None were approved for use on tea, a food product that is not washed during processing. One sample contained 17 different pesticides. Fourteen of the 18 contained pesticides believed to affect fertility, harm unborn children or cause genetic damage, according to Greenpeace.
“Large tea producers have every reason to take action immediately and reduce pesticide use substantially,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Wang Jing.
A representative of Tenfu Tea, a Fujian-based company, said all their products must pass quality tests before sale. He said the company had received no complaints about pesticide residues.
Lin Yan, a researcher with the Beijing Pesticide Assoc, told the Global Times that despite being banned, many tea farmers still use pesticides banned as toxic because they are less costly and more effective.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has pledged to reduce pesticide use 20 percent nationwide by 2015. China is the world’s largest producer of pesticides and the largest consumer, according to MOA.