This article investigates the sources of vegetables consumed by farmers, their perception of pesticide-related food safety risks and the behaviors they engage in to protect themselves, and explores the implications for the social co-governance (shehui gongzhi) of food safety emphasized by China's recent Food Safety Law. The research site is a county in Yunnan Province where vegetable growing is the major source of income and livelihood for local farmers. We surveyed 417 farmers and collected 776 vegetable samples from 377 surveyed farmer households and tested them for organophosphate and carbamate pesticide residues using PR-12N Rapid Detection Instrument for Pesticide Residues. The results showed that farmers know about the risks to food safety caused by pesticides used in vegetable growing and they purposely avoid these risks by mainly consuming vegetables planted in home gardens or private plots that use little or no pesticides. Vegetable samples from these private plots had the lowest positive rate of pesticide residues (6.10%), compared with vegetable samples from commercial farmland (13.73%) and markets (12.66%), and the difference was statistically significant (X2=9.69, 0.005<P<0.010). This implies that the efforts of farmers to protect themselves from pesticide-related food safety risks do have some effect; however, the effect is limited due to the environmental pollution caused by the massive use of pesticides in commercial vegetable growing. Furthermore, this self-protective behavior may have a negative impact on the social co-governance of food safety set out in the new Food Safety Law.
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Vol. 9 • No. 1