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Catholics call for end to drugged pork

Concern mounts as 'unethical' farmers are prosecuted for feeding drug to pigs

Catholics call for end to drugged pork
A meat stall in a China market

April 7, 2011

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A priest has voiced Catholics' concerns over contaminated meat amid calls for government action. Father Lu, a parish priest in Zhejiang province, appealed to Catholic businessmen and famers to have the courage to resist unethical ways of making money. “Fraud goes against the Church’s teaching,” he said. Catholics want the China Consumers Association and relevant government departments to take action against those contaminating pork and guarantee that the most popular meat in the country is safe to eat. “I wonder if such fraud is due to the lack of regulation by the authorities or a defect in the Chinese people’s conscience?” asked Joseph, a layman from Shaanxi province. The government should enhance monitoring business practices and give stricter penalties to those who violate it, he said. “We need to uplift the quality of our fellow citizens through moral education. Giving up moral ethics for profits would hurt the image of China eventually,” he noted. Thousands of tonnes of pork were recently found to contain the toxic additive clenbuterol hydrochloride that comes from adulterated pig feed. The chemical enhances muscle mass and is used by farmers as a relatively inexpensive way to increase production of lean meat.  Compared with normal pork, this kind of pork has almost no fat and pigs raised this way carry a high price. The drug is banned for use in China and in March authorities in central Henan province prosecuted 72 people for selling pork with clenbuterol. Some Catholic pig farm owners in the northwestern Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang regions observed that the drug has been in use over the past decade but that they had stopped using clenbuterol after their priests told them not to do so. Peter Wang, a Catholic corn merchant from Shaanxi’s Yangling pointed out that despite the temptation for high profits, he tries never to sell adulterated feed. “God gave us a spirituality and wisdom to live a meaningful life. We should by no means create harmful substances to deceive people and make money,” said a Catholic farmer from Shandong province. Research shows that eating meat containing clenbuterol leads to nausea, dizziness, weakness and shaky hands. The drug is dangerous to those with heart disease or high blood pressure. China’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced it will launch a yearlong crackdown on illegal additives in pig feed. CH13883.1648
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