Worries grow over Fuji apple fungicide

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am


The growing of Fuji apples in paper bags coated with a fungicide in Shandong is causing growing concern, with some people suffering health problems as a result of eating the fruit, The Beijing News reports.

Farmers in Yantai and Qixia cover apples with the bags for five months, from when they are young until they ripen. However, the fungicide, which farmers say is urbacid, or Tuzet, has been blamed for causing rashes on people's skin and other ill effects.

Yantai and Qixia are famous for the quality of their Fuji apples and produce more than a million tonnes of the fruit a year.

The Beijing News said that farmers who place the papers bag on apples have to wear face masks and gloves because the fungicide is so strong.

Last year, the National Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee proposed banning pesticides containing urbacid due to their high content of toxic arsine.

Zhou Zengqiang, a researcher with the China Association of Pesticide Development and Application in Henan, says urbacid has been widely used around the country for more than 20 years because it is cheap, but increasing concern has been expressed about the problem of high levels of pesticide residue. Although it can make apples look better by reducing surface blemishes, it takes a long time to decompose.

'Since these cases have been found in one province, it's possible that it will spread to other places since fruit that looks good is more competitive in the market,' Zhou Zengqiang said.

He had not heard of any similar cases in Henan, he said.

A crackdown in Shandong this year on inappropriate pesticide use has uncovered more than two million problematic cases.