Hutchison Whampoa is a Fortune 500 company and one of Hong Kong’s largest listed companies. It is 49.97 per cent owned by the Cheung Kong Group, a property company. Hutchison’s origins date back to two companies founded in the 19th century – Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock, established in 1863 by British merchant John Duflon Hutchison, and Hutchison International in 1877. In 1977, Hutchison became Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Its operations include ports, with operations across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, property and hotels, retailing through AS Watson & Co, PARKnSHOP supermarkets, Fortress electrical appliance stores, telecommunications through Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. It is also involved in infrastructure through its infrastructure arm, Cheung Kong Infrastructure, and has an interest in Hongkong Electric Holdings (HEH), the sole electricity supplier to Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island. Hutchison is also a major shareholder of Husky Energy, one of Canada’s largest energy and energy related companies. It is headed by Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest man, who has been nicknamed “Superman” because of his investment prowess.
Supermarkets taken to task over pesticides
Pesticide residues that could cause cancer and disrupt the human endocrine system have been found in some fruit for sale in supermarkets, Greenpeace said yesterday. It called on the government and markets to regulate how much is too much.
The group staged a protest at Vanguard supermarket's office yesterday after finding harmful residues in nine out of 17 apples, pears and peaches from ParknShop branches in Ma On Shan and Guangzhou, and Vanguard branches in Wan Chai and Guangzhou. Among the residues found, the most dangerous were the pesticides chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos, which are listed as highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation.
Greenpeace's food and agriculture campaigner, Lorena Luo Yuan-nan, said harmful pesticide residues were present in many fruit, and that the government and supermarkets lacked regulations targeting these 'invisible killers'. Consumers were vulnerable because they could not protect themselves.
Relevant regulations are in place on the mainland but absent in Hong Kong. Ms Luo urged the relevant parties to start controlling the use of pesticides on fruit and vegetables, which can harm people and the environment. ParknShop and Vanguard could not be reached for comment.
Wellcome chain marketing manager Annie Sin Pik-kwan said it had its own system of ensuring fruit and vegetables were safe. 'We run lab tests and give instructions to the farmers we use, from time to time, to make sure products we sell are of a good standard,' she said.
Lo Wing-lok, a doctor specialising in infectious diseases, said pesticides has long been a threat because they accumulate in the body, and their bad effects are detected only after consumption over a long period. The residues can lead to decreased sperm counts in men and erratic menstrual periods in women, he said. They can also cause skin irritations.
'It's unacceptable that such pesticides are found in fruit from supermarkets,' he said. 'Consumers can't tell clean from harmful just by the appearance of fruit, and water doesn't wash this away.'