Japan also uses agricultural cooperative organizations to establish a high-quality nationwide farming system. This uses information technology to establish records on, and manage, a traceability system for the production, processing and distribution of products, inspection certifications based on both internal and external inspections, and full disclosure of information, using the Internet and retail markets to provide up-to-date information about production, distribution and food safety to producers and consumers.
Using these approaches Japan has successfully integrated the government, producers, wholesalers and consumers into a system which shares responsibility for ensuring agricultural product safety. Taiwan should take a closer look at these worthwhile measures.
Agricultural authorities should — in addition to implementing controls at the level of seed planting — establish simple biochemistry test sites at farmers’ associations and agricultural cooperatives around the nation, and use the number of times a certain farmer passes testing as a basis for issuing subsidies to encourage farmers to take a more active role in submitting their produce for testing, which should be free of charge.
The government should also pay special attention to agricultural products that test positive for pesticide residues and to the producers of these products. Testing and controls need to be strengthened and cooperation is needed with health authorities on examinations at outlets where food is sold.
This is the only way to guarantee the safety of agricultural products from Taiwan and to help farmers as well as consumers.
Du Yu is a member of the Chen-Li task force for Agricultural Reform.
Translated by Drew Cameron