April 6, 2021


China's antibiotic overuse in aquaculture threatens food safety, Philippine advocate says


China's reported overuse of antibiotics in its fisheries products threatens food safety in the Philippines, according to a food security advocate, Manila Bulletin reported.

In a virtual briefing on April 5, Asis Perez, convenor of food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan, raised concerns over a recent study published in the journal Marine Environmental Science, revealing that China has discharged large quantities of antibiotics into the ocean.

According to the study, the amount of antibiotics found along China's coastline is equivalent to 20,000 penicillin tablets dropped in a standard-sized swimming pool.

The study, conducted by a team led by Peking University professor Wen Donghui, was first reported in South China Morning Post.

Perez, who is also the former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said this is a food safety concern that should prompt the Philippine government to be more stringent with the import of fisheries products.

"China is the leading exporter of fish. It produces 80% of the world's fisheries export," Perez says. "It should also be noted that the Philippines imported P9-billion (~US$190 million; P1 = US$0.19) worth of fish, mollusks, and aquatic invertebrates from China in 2019".

"It is worth noting that prohibited antibiotics such as fulfathiaole, chloramphenicol and erythromycin were detected in the waters, indicating that the farmers may or may have used antibiotics in violation of regulations," Wen said in the Peking University study.

The study also noted that antibiotic use in offshore farms is subject to less stringent regulations than on land because of the common belief that the expansive ocean body can dilute the drugs.

The Department of Agriculture and BFAR were sought to provide comments on the report but both agencies have yet to respond.

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