Chinese Pesticide Poisonings and Production
June 25, 1996
According to a recent report from the Chinese National
Statistics Bureau, 48,377 pesticide poisoning cases were
reported in 27 provinces in 1995, including 3,204 fatalities.
The total number of poisonings increased 13% over 1994
figures. Three provinces, Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui,
accounted for 76% of total poisonings nationwide.
The report indicates that organophosphate insecticides with
high toxicity are a major threat to farmers' health in China.
Poisonings are divided into two categories in the report:
poisoning due to pest control and poisoning by accidents,
which includes suicides and improper use of pesticides. In
1995, 90% of the 15,300 poisoning cases due to pest control
were caused by insecticides, and 91% of these were
organophosphates. Over 61% of the organophosphate poisonings
were caused by parathion, methamidophos and omethoate.
Some experts feel that the actual number of pesticide
poisoning cases in China is much higher than those officially
reported. The reporting system, which has been in operation
for only four years, is still in need of improvement. Some
areas of the country have not yet established a reporting
system, and in other areas reporting is limited. Some
estimate that poisoning incidents could be under-reported by
60% or more.
The Chinese agrochemical industry continues to grow,
producing 95,000 tonnes of pesticides in the first quarter of
1996. This represents 41% of the annual target of 230,000
tonnes set by the Chinese Ministry of Chemical Industry.
China was a net exporter of insecticides in 1995 with export
sales of US$109.3 million. In the same year, China was a net
importer of herbicides, with sales valued at US$93.2 million.
The Chinese government expects chemical sales to reach
US$29.5 billion in 1996, up 8% from 1995.
Zeneca Agrochemicals, a British multinational corporation,
recently announced plans to double the size of its proposed
herbicide plant in Nantong. Zeneca originally planned to
invest US$60 million to build a 3,000 tonne capacity plant to
manufacture paraquat (sold as Gramoxone); however the company
now plans to increase the investment to US$80 million and to
expand the plant's capacity to 6,000 tonnes. According to
Zeneca officials, the proposed increase in production is due
to growth in the market for paraquat in China and throughout
Recent Chinese pesticide company advertisements in industry
publications list a number of pesticides available in China
for both domestic use and export, including many highly
hazardous chemicals. Shenzhen Jiangshan Commerce and Industry
Corporation based in Shenzhen, China sells Dirty Dozen
pesticides DDT, lindane, parathion-ethyl, parathion-methyl,
paraquat and pentachlorophenol, as well as the ozone-
depleting fumigant methyl bromide. The CAC Chemical Company,
Ltd., in Shanghai sells the insecticides carbofuran,
dimethoate, malathion, monocrotophos and parathion-methyl;
the herbicides atrazine and glyphosate; and a range of other
Sources: Agrow, May 3, April 19, and February 1, 1996;
Pesticides News, June 1996.
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