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Donkey gelatin industry threatened by donkey crisis

donkey gelatin

BEIJING — As if there had not been enough scares out of China lately, a new threat looms: a shortage of donkey skin gelatin.

北京——好像最近来自中国的恐慌还不够多似的,一个新的威胁正在出现:驴皮阿胶的短缺。

State news outlets warn that the diminishing supply has attracted a flood of fake stand-ins for donkey gelatin, a popular traditional medicine. Some breeders in the eastern province of Shandong, the historic heartland for donkey gelatin, are using implanted identification chips to protect their increasingly precious beasts. At least one company has offered consumers DNA certificates to prove that its product is the real, braying deal.

官方新闻媒体警告说,驴皮原料的减少,吸引了大批生产者制造替代驴皮阿胶的假货,阿胶是一种受欢迎的中药。山东省东部是历史悠久的驴皮阿胶产地,那里的一些养殖户在给毛驴植入芯片,赋予它们"身份证",以保护这些越来越珍贵的牲畜。至少有一家公司已表示可向消费者提供DNA证书,证明其产品是用真的、纯的驴皮炼制的。

Fortunately, there are experts and politicians at hand with solutions.

幸运地是,专家和政客的手头已经有了解决方案。

"The government should support donkey breeders by offering subsidies to encourage more breeding," Qin Yunfeng told Xinhua, the state news agency, in a report on Thursday.

在国家通讯社新华社周四的一篇报道中,秦玉峰对记者说,"国家(应该)加大力度扶持养驴业,给予与养殖牛羊一样的补贴扶持。"

Mr. Qin has sterling qualifications. Xinhua called him a "state-level expert" on "ejiao," the name for the rubbery substance extracted from boiled donkey skin that is reputed in traditional Chinese medicine to replenish the blood, cure coughs and insomnia, and offer a general boost.

秦玉峰有无可挑剔的资格。新华社称他是"阿胶"制作技艺的"国家级专家"。阿胶是用驴皮炼制出来的胶状物质,被中医认为具有补血作用,还能治咳嗽和失眠,并具有一般的进补作用。

Mr. Qin is also chairman of Dong'e Ejiao, a company in Shandong that promotes itself as the gold standard in donkey gelatin. As a member of the provincial legislature, he has campaigned for a better deal for donkey breeders and urged that the government include support for the industry in its next five-year plan.

秦玉峰也是东阿阿胶的总裁,这家山东公司自称是阿胶行业的黄金标准。作为山东省立法机构的成员,秦玉峰一直在为毛驴饲养者争取更好的待遇,他敦促政府把对该行业的支持写进下一个五年计划。

But the donkey crisis has deep roots in the countryside. These creatures were once much more common in Chinese villages, especially in the north, where they tilled fields, hauled produce and circled grindstones for grain. "Slaughtering a donkey that's done milling" is a Chinese saying for when a valuable person is demeaned, and old donkeys were indeed often used for their meat and hides.

不过,毛驴危机在农村有更深一层的原因。这种牲畜在中国农村曾经很常见,特别是在北方,人们用它们耕田、拉车,还用它们拉研磨谷物的磨盘。中国有个成语叫"卸磨杀驴",意思是把一个曾经对自己有用的人一脚踢开,不过老毛驴确实常常成为肉和皮料的来源。

But with the spread of machinery, donkeys have retreated. In the 1990s, China had 11 million of them, but that has fallen to six million, and the population keeps dropping by about 300,000 a year, National Business Daily, a Chinese newspaper, reported on Thursday, citing government data.

但是,随着机械的普及,毛驴的数量大减。中国在20世纪90年代曾有1100万头驴,但驴的数量现已减少到600万头,而且还在以每年约30万头的数量下降,中国报纸《每日经济新闻》在周四的报道中援引政府的数据说。

Still, many Chinese people remain sure of the curative benefits of donkey gelatin, and demand remains high. (Foreigners, however, have sometimes been confounded by the English names used on some brands of gelatin: "asses' glue" or just "ass glue.")

尽管如此,许多中国人仍对阿胶的疗效确信不疑,因此需求依然很大。(但是,有些阿胶牌子上的英文翻译令外国人哭笑不得,比如:"蠢人胶"、"笨蛋胶"。[asses' glue或ass glue,ass的英文旧意是"驴",在现代口语中是"蠢人"、"笨蛋"的意思。——译注])

Donkey breeders say that the shortfall has been met by gelatin from other sources, including animals that have none of the special properties of donkeys.

毛驴饲养者说,驴皮阿胶的短缺已经被用其他原料制造的胶替补了,而有些原料来自包括完全不具有驴的特殊性质的动物。

"People have began using the skins from mules, horses, pigs and oxen to produce counterfeit tonics," Xinhua said. "In some cases, people have even used shoes."

"有人把骡子、马和猪皮,化身为形形色色的'阿胶'产品,"新华社在报道中写道。"在某些情况下,甚至还有人使用制作皮鞋剩下的下脚料。"

Bu Xun, a researcher from the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, explained to Xinhua: "It is very difficult to differentiate donkey skin from mules and horses, making it easy for manufacturers to get away with fake products."

山东省农科院生物技术研究中心的研究人员步迅对新华社说,"驴骡、马骡的原料皮,在感官上和驴皮难以区别,容易被用来掺假。"

Mr. Qin, the donkey gelatin magnate, has vowed not to rest until breeders get more support. Last year, he submitted a proposal to the Shandong Province legislature: "Donkey breeders should enjoy equal treatment with cattle and sheep breeders."

驴皮阿胶巨头秦玉峰发誓他会不断努力,直到为养驴户争取到更多的支持。去年,他向山东省立法机构提交了一份议案,呼吁让毛驴饲养者得到与牛羊饲养者一样的待遇。

"Until the problem of treatment for donkeys is solved, he will keep making proposals," a news website in Shandong reported.

"驴的待遇问题不解决,他就会一直'建议'下去,"山东的一个新闻网站如此报道。

2016-06-23

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