China joined the international organic movement comparatively late. Challenged by the scarcity of arable land and a large population to feed, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) for many years has been reluctant to support organic farming that might result in a drop of agricultural output. On the contrary, China’s “Green Revolution” catapulted the country to a leading producer and user of agrochemicals in the world. This development came at a high cost for the country’s environmental quality and food safety.
In recent years, accumulating public complaints about environmental pollution, food poisoning, sickness and death of farmers poisoned by agrochemicals as well as increasing difficulties with agricultural exports rejected as a result of excessive chemical residues are observed. It is not only because of the problems mentioned above that recently the MoA became more supportive towards the organic food development, authorities also realized the growing opportunities for healthy food in the international as well as the domestic market. In fact, China’s organic food development cannot be analyzed without taking into account the fast development of organic food industries in industrialized countries during the past decade. At present organically grown food “made in China” is still a small - though fast growing - sector. The article takes a look at the development and current status of organic agriculture and organic food industry in China and discusses the prospects and limitations of the sector.