Toxic Fish

Another of the NY Times’s excellent series on China titled “Choking on Growth,” this article might make you think long and hard about that seafood you love ordering at the local restaurant in China. Unfortunately, it’s also being shipped all over the world and its full of carcinogens and other poisons, byproducts of China’s GDP, which keeps on growing at the expense of the environment. Whenever I eat shrimp or fish here I have to block out of my mind where it came from – filthy water full of chemicals, pesticides and other goodies that keep the economy on a tear. The short-sightedness here is simply mind boggling: there’s only so much poison you can keep pouring into the water before life is virtually unsustainable. Just one more train-wreck to worry about as China continues its campaign against nature.

My one hope is an emerging awareness of the benefits of “green” among Chinese young people – I think they are beginning to get it. I sure hope so, because they don’t have a lot of time, and I fear that a lot of the damage done is irreversible.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 20 Comments

And this is an example of why I wouldn’t live permanently in China. Bad enough the occasional eel bowl I eat may contain illegal veterinary drugs. But what in the food chain there isn’t grossly contaminated?

It was especially sad reading about Fujian which really is a beautiful place.

December 15, 2007 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

Even on Google satellite photos you can see that Bohai is 30-40% covered with green and blue algea.

When you read about the bai jing and other higher level species dying off, it is already too late. The damage is irreversible. Too many bad things have happened at the microscopic and simply multicellular level to result in the death of these highly evolved organisms.

But as much of the China blogosphere is composed of media and marketing dumb asses, you people are plainly too stupid and ignorant to realize the reality of what is occurring around you. Instead you continue to idiotically stare in amazement at the tall buildings and half-assed, gimp-like steps to modernization that China takes.

Idiots, you deserved to be poisoned. Your home countries don’t need you.

December 15, 2007 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

Nahe, why don’t you go piss up a rope? Honestly. You’re an ass. Anything useful you have to say is drowned out by your juvenile name-calling.

I guess I should just take you at your word and accept that your purpose is to incite racist hatred.

Rage on, dude. Hope it gets you off somehow, because it’s pretty fucking pathetic.

December 15, 2007 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

Nanhe, you’re forcing me to ban you. You have a choice: Apologize now for that sickening remark or be banned. Your choice. I men it. If you don’t, I will delete every one of your comments from here on.

December 15, 2007 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

“My one hope is an emerging awareness of the benefits of “green” among Chinese young people – I think they are beginning to get it. I sure hope so, because they don’t have a lot of time, and I fear that a lot of the damage done is irreversible.”

This is exactly what Chief Seattle admonished against back in the 1800s:

http://www.barefootsworld.net/seattle.html

“What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

December 16, 2007 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Nanhe:

I never come out of hiding for ANYONE. Like the posters or not here, one cannot deny that this is (was) one of the best China-related blogs around. Do yourself a favor and don’t die on this hill. There are those of us who love to see you goad the liberal intellengentsia and many of us don’t want to see you banned from ANY web sites. That being said, it was a dick thing to say and over the line. Apologize, tone it down a notch on this blog or yep…Richard will have to delete your stupid comments. Make contact with that logical voice in your head, ok??? Many of us know it’s in there, just don’t be such an ass in the process…

December 16, 2007 @ 12:39 am | Comment

Nanhe:

I never come out of hiding for ANYONE. Like the posters or not here, one cannot deny that this is (was) one of the best China-related blogs around. Do yourself a favor and don’t die on this hill. There are those of us who love to see you goad the liberal intellegentsia and many of us don’t want to see you banned from ANY web sites. That being said, it was a dick thing to say and over the line. Apologize, tone it down a notch on this blog or yep…Richard will have to delete your stupid comments. Make contact with that logical voice in your head, ok??? Many of us know it’s in there, just don’t be such an ass in the process…

December 16, 2007 @ 12:41 am | Comment

Sorry for the repeat…spelling not so good after a few Jack and cokes…

December 16, 2007 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Thank God I don’t eat fish. However, is there a estimation that states if we keep fishing at the current level, we will be out of fish by 2050? Sorry off topic.

December 16, 2007 @ 1:09 am | Comment

On behalf of Canrun’s support of my blogosphere efforts I apologize for any remarks that may have been taken in offense.

December 16, 2007 @ 3:13 am | Comment

You would think that China with all that money in reserve would spend a few bucks on water treatment processing plants. It just makes good business sense, if business is what they are interested in.

Having said that, all these antibiotics in meat and poultry in US can’t be good either. What’s a guy to do?

December 16, 2007 @ 3:27 am | Comment

“Any remarks that may have been taken in offense”? That’s a pretty poor “apology.” You basically told people that they deserved to be poisoned, including the owner of this blog.

If you can’t see why that’s deeply offensive, what can I say?

December 16, 2007 @ 3:53 am | Comment

canrun:”There are those of us who love to see you goad the liberal intelligentsia and many of us don’t want to see you banned from ANY web sites.”

I’m with canrun. When you are good you are great ….be cool.

December 16, 2007 @ 6:50 am | Comment

I’m with canrun. When you are good you are great ….be cool,南河羊肉串。BTW, I am Chinese and I do get offended by your racist remarks. However, I like it whenever you are in , like canrun said,”contact with that logical voice in your head…Many of us know it’s in there, just don’t be such an ass in the process.” You have a nice weekend now.

December 16, 2007 @ 8:34 am | Comment

@La:

There are treatment plants, but not enough and like every other development issue in China there is alot of tug of war over technology and skills transfer.

France does most of China’s water plants and they have among the best treatment technology, especially in O3 and UV areas and China wants that technology NOT for its own cleanups but for export and money making.

@youguys:
Thanks for the unexpected support. I do support the general argument of Chinese that foreigners cause alot of the problems China now has. I suppose that is one commercial advantage of a large population, ruled by an insular, control freak government is that the population will be very naive, and the gov’t will be naive to the ways of the foreigners as well.

December 16, 2007 @ 9:46 am | Comment

You are welcome Nanhe.

Let’s hope an imminent nation wide awakening will occur long before the day of recogning when no one will dare eat seafood, meat, vegies and can food etc; from China. Then what will the peasants do?

The Chinese Academy of Sciences concludes that “China has to go for “Open ocean aquaculture….The United States is already considering such a plan, partly as a way to make it less dependent on imports, which now fill 80 percent of its seafood needs.” NYtimes

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
–John Powell

December 16, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Comment

“Let’s hope an imminent nation wide awakening will occur long before the day of recogning when no one will dare eat seafood, meat, vegies and can food etc; from China. Then what will the peasants do?”

They would do the same thing that others across central Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East would do according to NATO, US, Russian, PLA, JDF, SKDF and Aussie intel reports: with nothing left to lose, they would revolt in incredible numbers. Chaos and warlordism would reign (worse than exists now). The dark ages would fall on 2/3 of the human population and the EU, Japan, North America, SK and Russia would have to become fortresses just to keep over 2 billion hungry and thirsty people out.

The US DOD report is actually available in pdf form but it is very, very lengthy. There is also a UN report that is a couple of megabytes of Word documents.

Now, when people like Richard, Dan at CLB, cup of cha, etc, etc say I have nothing to contribute to conversations about China, they are simply full of *^it. I say what they don’t want to hear, I say what the ugly truth is, I say what many only talk about in hushed tones and in private confines.

They say that I have nothing to contribute because I don’t have some idiotic, simpleton, shallow idea for the next “big thing” in marketing and media to sell junk and ideas to 1 billion people who wipe their meger dinners from their mouths with the sleeves of their shirts because they refuse to waste money on tissues.

That is why I am so dreaded in the China blogosphere.

December 16, 2007 @ 3:19 pm | Comment

Nan, you’re an asshole. I’ll elaborate. Those people don’t say you have nothing to contribute because you “don’t have some idiotic, simpleton, shallow idea for the next “big thing” in marketing and media to sell junk and ideas to 1 billion people,” etc. In fact, I don’t know that any of them have said that you have nothing to contribute.

You get banned because you’re an asshole. You can’t present your argument without racist rants or personal insults or wishing people dead who have the audacity to disagree with you.

So do you actually want to engage in a dialog? Or do you just want to rant like a pissy little 5 year old so you can hurl insults and feces when you get spanked?

December 16, 2007 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

What Lisa said, word for word.

Nanhe, I have never once said you have nothing to contribute – in fact I’ve said the opposite several times, i.e., that sometimes you are very smart and insightful. Unfortunately, as Lisa says, you are also an asshole. You have to throw in gems like this, that wipe out your credibility and force me to threaten to ban you: “Idiots, you deserved to be poisoned.”

I am making you a fair offer: Comment here and share your viewpoint and your intelligence. But never make a comment like that again, about wishing death on an entire nation. That kind of BS isn’t welcome here.

You are not “dreaded” by anyone. Laughed at, maybe, occasionally admired when you write something smart, but if I dreaded you I’d simply delete your comments, which I’ve only done once or twice when you made similar racist, sickening remarks. But please don’t have any illusions. Most readers assume you’re an immature guy with a huge chip on your shoulder and in your impotent rage spend all your time spamming blog comments, the one place where you can get your voice heard. Comment away; but don’t have any illusions that people fear you, or even give you much thought at all, certainly no more than they give to the annoying mosquito on the bedroom wall.

December 16, 2007 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

It’s a pity that a thread like this gets Shanghaied by a dufus commentator and responses.

I wanted to note that the story to which this post points ran on the front page, no less, of Saturday’s NYT–

I have a recent longish post, "The bright side of bad news is that its news", on Crackpot Chronicles, which tracks these stories of China’s contaminated exports from deep in within the Business section to the front pages to illustrate growing consumer awareness, and some of the consequences since I started following news coverage of this topic in May.

the post is here

This fish farming crisis, combined with the deterioration of marine conditions due to climate change forecasts a severe shortage of seafood , let alone safe seafood, in the near future which is going to affect not only we top of the foodchain consumers, but world hunger. When will we wake up?

December 17, 2007 @ 1:12 am | Comment

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