Florida Senator Rick Scott has called for an investigation into garlic imported from China, saying that production methods mean the food could pose a national security risk.
“There is a severe public health concern over the quality and safety of garlic grown in foreign countries—most notably, garlic grown in Communist China,” the senator said in a letter to the Department of Commerce on Wednesday.
Scott urged the department to open an investigation into the security risk posed by all forms of Chinese-imported garlic.
“Whole or separated into constituent cloves, whether or not peeled, chilled, fresh, frozen, provisionally preserved or packed in water or other neutral substance,” Scott wrote.
Citing cooking blogs, home magazines, YouTube videos, and documentaries, he claimed that it was “well-documented” that garlic from China was fertilized with “human feces” and was grown in sewage.
He also said that garlic was sometimes bleached to make it appear whiter and more appealing to US consumers.
Scott also noted concerns over the imports’ effects on domestic industries, saying that it could lead to unemployment, decreased public revenue, and loss of investment.
A 2017 report from the McGill University Office for Science and Society said that there was no hard evidence showing that sewage was used as fertilizer in China.
“In any case, there is no problem with this, human waste is as effective a fertilizer as is animal waste,” the report says.
“The skin on garlic bulbs is effective at preventing penetration into the bulb,” it adds.
This year, researchers from Swiss agricultural research firm Agroscope also found that fertilizers made from human feces were as safe and effective as traditional ones after carrying out tests on cabbages, the New Scientist reported.
“The products derived from recycling human urine and feces are viable and safe nitrogen fertilizers for cabbage cultivation,” Agroscope’s Franziska Häfner said, per the report. “They gave similar yields as a conventional fertilizer product, and did not show any risk regarding transmission of pathogens or pharmaceuticals.”