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A New Era in Safe Agriculture
When we buy cars, we often look at the safety features first. When we buy houses, we often look at the structure of the house and the building materials first. We do these things for our health and safety. However, not many of us know much about the food we eat every day. Most of us don't know where the food comes from, what quantities of chemical insecticides and fertilizers were used or if there are residues of these chemical compounds that are often harmful to people. Is it because people don't care about safety when they eat and drink? Or is it because people don't know what to care about?
Chen Chi-rong, a section chief in the Department of Planning at COA, said that since Taiwan joined the WTO in 2002 and opened its agricultural market, the island’s consumers have been able to purchase specialty fruit and vegetables from all over the world, but with that benefit came increased discoveries of disease and pests. Apples from the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Chile were found to have codling and peach fruit moth. In 2006, Escherichia coli was found in organic spinach salad packs supplied in US, unnerving consumers. Other incidents that worried consumers included reports in the media about chemical insecticides and antibiotic residues exceeding allowed limits and some products contaminated with dioxin. Many consumers became suspicious and fearful about the possibility of suffering health problems.
There have been more and more “safe", "uncontaminated" and "organic" products entering markets since consumers started demanding safer and healthier food. The huge number of choices often makes it hard for people to make the right selections. What are safe agricultural products? What are good products and real organic products? Where can we find reputable dealers and purchase these products? The key to all these questions is the establishment of sales and production records and a certification system. Consumers can rest assured when they can easily find information on sales and production of agricultural products.
Mr. Chen stressed that in order to create a food environment that people can trust, the management of hygiene in agricultural products must begin at the source. To improve the quality and safety of agricultural products and processed products and safeguard consumers’ health and rights, the COA has incorporated the Agricultural Product Sales and Production Record System and the Agricultural Product Certification Logo System into the New Agricultural Movement in response to the demand and expectations of consumers for food which is safe to eat.
The COA drafted and pushed for adoption of the Agricultural Production and Certification Act. It was implemented on January 29th, 2007. The Agricultural Production and Certification Act defines rules for production procedures, the certification system, agricultural product logos, labeling and promotion of Sales and Production Records for Agricultural Products; Organic Agricultural Products and Processed Products; and Good Agricultural Products. After the Agricultural Production and Certification Management Law was enacted and implemented, the COA completed nine related regulations including Agricultural Production and Certification Regulations for Implementation; Sales and Production Records and Agricultural Product Certification Management Rules; GAP Certification Management Regulations; Management Regulations for Organic Agricultural Products and Organic Agricultural Production Process Certification; Management Regulations for Imported Organic Agricultural Products and Organic Agricultural Production Process Certification; Agricultural Product Logo Management Regulations; Agricultural Product Testing and Sampling Regulations; and Reporting Violations of Management Regulations for Agricultural Product Production and Certification.
That's why in the future, based on the agricultural production record system, the GAP logo will become the TAP logo, and the ingredients used in a Good Agricultural Product will be required to be agricultural products from the TAP system. Organic agricultural products also will be required to have sales and production records and provide traceable information for consumers.
A new era in safe agriculture has already begun!