China has agreed to allow imports of rice from the US for the first time. China is the world’s biggest rice consumer and the current agreement will give US farmers access to this huge market.
According to USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward: "China consumes the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop about every two weeks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects China to import 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2017/2018, by far the world’s largest import market".
In fact China opened its rice market in 2001 (when it joined the World Trade Organisation) but a lack of protocols to control pests and plant diseases have effectively banned imports.
The current breakthrough is an establishment of “phytosanitary protocol" which outlines sanitary conditions for American rice.
"We know China wants to send a team here to inspect mills and facilities certified to ship to China, and we are working with USDA to make that happen in the quickest and most efficient way," said Carl Brothers, chairman of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee.
But will anyone address the irony of selling rice to the country with the largest global rice production?
There seems to be a certain amount of media outrage associated with the 'ban'. The prevailing view is that bureaucracy is sanitising the character and personality of the city by crushing local food vendors.
But is it really that simple?
"The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is not banning street food in Khao San and Yaowarat roads, it's the opposite," he says. "It is supporting street food by implementing hygienic measures and organizing traffic around the areas."
Thai natives are similarly sceptical about the alleged ban. Chin Chongtong, founder of Chili Paste Tour, which provides food and culture tours of Bangkok, said the “ban” had been wildly misreported. “I think now is too early to say what is really going on,” she told The Independent. “I’ve seen many articles by the foreign press saying ‘Bangkok bans all street food’ – that is ridiculous and untrue.
"Let's put things in perspective here. Street carts are the most visible, the most approachable, the most affordable, and -- as some would say -- the most fun food operators in Bangkok. So naturally, they get the most laudatory write-ups among international travel/food writers who often have little access to restaurants with a Thai menu or people's homes. The food reportage is often skewed. Actually, apart from the longstanding and reputable street carts -- and there are quite a few -- the vast majority of them are far from representative of Bangkok food at its finest."
On one hand regulation and food safety IS an issue and is downplayed in this video. It may be 'safe' street food compared to other countries but
people do die every year even within the heavily regulated Food Safety Laws of Australia. I'd venture to say that many more have died off of unregulated street food in Bangkok.
On the other hand, more regulations (or if in fact it turns out to be a ban) are likely to disrupt or destroy the livelihood of those already struggling.
It may add yet another obstacle (11:25min in the video) to those trying to make a living and there is a high possibility that Bangkok's progess may trample the lives of the underprivileged.
How do you see Bangkok's street food ban?
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