Sen­sa­tion­al­iz­ing magic po­tions ir­re­spon­si­ble

China Daily - - COMMENT -

A RE­CENT TV RE­PORT about muskmel­ons in Lanxi county, North­east China’s Hei­longjiang prov­ince, found that a sweet­en­ing liq­uid is in­jected into the mel­ons, spark­ing pub­lic con­cerns. Li Baoju, a re­searcher from the Chi­nese Academy of Agri­cul­tural Sciences, com­ments on Bei­jing News:

Many worry that the “sweet­en­ing liq­uid” might con­tain harm­ful chem­i­cals. As a re­sult, peo­ple have said they will hes­i­tate be­fore buy­ing the muskmel­ons in the fu­ture.

That’s a to­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing. The “sweet­en­ing liq­uid” con­tains noth­ing but mi­cro-el­e­ments, amino acid, potas­sic fer­til­izer, which do lit­tle harm to hu­man bod­ies. How­ever, the re­port did not ex­plain that clearly.

The re­port in the case is only one of its kind. In an­other re­port, done by sev­eral me­dia out­lets, they said farm­ers make their cu­cum­bers look bet­ter with a kind of hor­mone that’s sim­i­lar to that in con­tra­cep­tive pills. That mis­leads peo­ple into be­liev­ing the cu­cum­bers they buy in the mar­ket may harm their health, but ac­tu­ally the hor­mones are plant hor­mones that have lit­tle ef­fect upon hu­man bod­ies.

Such re­ports share one point in com­mon: They were writ­ten by jour­nal­ists and ed­i­tors without any pro­fes­sional knowl­edge and without in­ter­view­ing any ex­perts. Maybe some of them avoid in­ter­view­ing pro­fes­sion­als be­cause they hope to tell only part of the truth to their read­ers so as to at­tract more eye­balls; Maybe they sim­ply do not think of ask­ing pro­fes­sion­als.

But one thing is cer­tain: Such re­ports without proper pro­fes­sional knowl­edge have mis­led con­sumers and cast neg­a­tive ef­fects upon the mar­ket. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the price of cu­cum­bers dropped from 4 yuan ($0.59) to 1.6 yuan a kilo­gram in some places after the “hor­mone” re­port.

In or­der to pre­vent such things from hap­pen­ing again, jour­nal­ists and ed­i­tors should con­sult ex­perts to com­ment on such prac­tices rather than sen­sa­tion­al­iz­ing their re­ports. And more im­por­tant, the agri­cul­tural su­per­vi­sion de­part­ments need to bet­ter reg­u­late the mar­ket, so as to strengthen pub­lic con­fi­dence in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts. Only with joint ef­forts from both sides will peo­ple have solid trust in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, which ben­e­fits both con­sumers and farm­ers.

LUO JIE / CHINA DAILY

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