NewsIs Chinese garlic a threat to national security? Senator requests investigation

Is Chinese garlic a threat to national security? Senator requests investigation

China is the largest exporter of garlic to the USA.
China is the largest exporter of garlic to the USA.
Images source: © Getty Images | 2020 VCG
ed. KRWL

3:56 PM EST, December 10, 2023

A senator from Florida is advocating for a government investigation into Chinese garlic, citing it as an issue of national security. His concern arises from the cultivation methods of Chinese garlic, which he postulates could potentially pose a health risk to US citizens.

The BBC reports that Rick Scott, a senator representing the state of Florida for the Republican Party, has officially advocated for an investigation into the potential impact Chinese garlic imports might have on the national security of the United States.

In a letter to the Secretary of Commerce, Scott raises questions about the safety of Chinese garlic, asserting it to be perilous due to production methods he deems unsanitary, according to the BBC.

China, the world's largest exporter of fresh and chilled garlic, counts the United States as its primary customer.

A call for investigation into Chinese garlic

However, garlic trade has been a contentious issue for many years. The United States has previously accused China of 'dumping' garlic on the market by selling it below the cost of production.

Since the mid-1990s, the United States has implemented high tariffs and taxes on Chinese imports to protect American producers from being outcompeted.

In his letter, Senator Scott mentions these existing concerns but emphasizes his "serious concerns over public health about the quality and safety of garlic grown in other nations, notably that grown in China", as reported by the BBC.

The senator cites practices purportedly documented in internet videos, culinary blogs, and documentary films, including the cultivation of garlic in sewage.

The senator has urged the Department of Commerce to take action under a law that allows investigations into the impact of specific imports on US security.

In addition, Senator Scott provides a detailed list of the garlic varieties he believes need to be investigated:

"All types of garlic, whether whole or broken into cloves, peeled or not, chilled, fresh, frozen, temporarily preserved or packed in water, or another neutral substance," - the Republican politician is quoted saying by the BBC.

Scott insists: "Food safety is a crisis that presents a serious threat to our national security, public health, and economic prosperity".

However, researchers from McGill University in Quebec, who specialize in understanding and explaining scientific issues, maintain that there is "no evidence" to support the claim that sewage is used as a fertilizer in China for growing garlic.

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