Illegal pesticide residue found on tea is caused by the wind blowing it from other crops, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health.

Greenpeace, an environmental organization, recently published the results of two inspections of Chinese tea, showing that several leading tea brands, such as Lipton, were selling products containing residue of banned pesticide. Some was found to contain methomyl, a pesticide banned from use on tea trees since last year.

The ministries said on Saturday the residue was not due to farmers spraying pesticide on the tea. Instead, said Dong Hongyan, an official with the agriculture ministry, long-term use of the pesticide on other crops may leave residue in the water and soil. Even though methomyl is banned on tea trees, it can still be used on other agricultural products.

"If the tea trees are planted next to some other crops, the pesticide traveling through wind or the flow of air current is inevitable," said Dong.

The explanation met with consumer disbelief on Weibo, the country’s leading microblog, with some saying they don’t believe a word of it. Consumers questioned how much pesticide would have to be used on other crops for the methomyl residue to show up on tea.

Consumers also expressed concern about soil pollution.

"I believe the pollution of the soil has become a serious problem for the country’s agriculture," said an online poster called "wild crane." "Overuse of chemical fertilizer and pesticide will destroy the soil quality."

Greenpeace tested 18 types of tea sold by nine brands in Beijing and Sichuan and Hainan provinces, including green tea, oolong tea and jasmine tea.

 
 
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