China,Imports,Wine,Wine Business

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis & China

When I was teaching anatomy and physiology, this word was the student’s first lesson, the very first day of class.

Why, because if my students could write, pronounce, and define this word they could handle all that was coming down the line with the skeletal, muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems.

Pneu mono ultra microscopic silico volcano coni osis

  • pneu ~ Gk. for lungs
  • mono ~ one
  • ultra ~ beyond
  • microscopic ~ invisible to the naked eye
  • silico ~ comes from the element silicon
  • volcano ~ if I have to explain this….
  • coni ~ Gk. (koni) for dust
  • osis ~ L. suffix for disease

Lung disease caused by minute volcanic dust particles.

I was reminded of this as I listened to a news story on National Public Radio. It was a story about people in China who are working in factories, being exposed to dust and inhaling it. They’re contracting pneumonoconiosis (black lung disease). Same disease above, minus the “volcanic” element of it. One young man, to prove that his working conditions were making him ill, had his chest cut open and had a piece of his lung removed. This was done in order to prove the origin of his not feeling well. He proved his point, and received his disability package, but only has six years to live. His hope is that he can live long enough for his child to remember him.

The story also went on to say that this younger generation of Chinese workers is not willing to take their bad working conditions any longer, as their elders have done in silence, just to have a job… That this younger generation is mobilizing and forming unions.

Sounds like their industrial revolution is right on a parallel with what the US’s was back in the 18th and 19th centuries for us.

How does this relate to wine?

I’ve written before that any wine being produced in China at this time is surely going to be lacking any and all environmental consciousness, and it will be a long time before I enjoy a wine that has grown and been produced in China… if ever in this life time.

The Dark Side of Outsourcing ~ China’s Wines Are in Question for Me

This story about pneumonoconiosis proves my point.

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6 Responses to “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis & China”

  1. mike says:

    It seems a bit of a stretch that China’s potential wine industry is somehow thrown into this story. It is unfortunate what happened to this young man. Wine growers are ahead of the pack when it comes to sustainability and sway less towards chemical farming than other row crops. There is no evidence that an emerging wine industry in China wouldn’t follow this trend in order to be successful. The amount of products that arrive in our country via China is astonishing. Being prepared to boycott their wine based on mistreatment of factory workers is a tough sell I would think. Wine isn’t made in a factory.

  2. Josh says:

    Hi Jo,

    A very interesting point to raise–especially given the both the export push and the movement of established producers into China, sourcing locations and business partners. I’m wondering your thoughts on where to draw the line in the more established sides of the business vis-á-vis enological, viticultural, and production practices? Should there be certifications ala Fair Trade?

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    Mike… Forgive me for not getting right back to you. I just got back from six days away from my desk/computer/phone/life in Sonoma County.

    I understand how this is a stretch for anyone. It’s not just you.

    No one will ever know how I connect all my dots… I just do. It’s stream of consciousness when it comes to writing this blog… I have to write so much for others; and, it’s dictated by their needs and requires their approval.

    When I’m blogging, I’m free. I’m journaling… basically thinking out loud about the things that I love, things I think about out there, and things that I know based on my experiences as a wine publicist (and all my other professions coming into this one).

    I also take twists and turns… I’m a storyteller, who will bring you back to where I started… regardless of the crazy routes that I take.

    Regarding China’s viticulture, I’m waiting to read a story that talks about their relationship to the land, their use of organic materials, their trellising, irrigation, leaf pulling, exposure to the sun for best photosynthesis, crop thinning, cover crops, etc.. Until then, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    I grew up in the shoe and fabric manufacturing town of Lewiston, Maine as a child. I watched these kinds of smoke stacks spew gray smoke into the air everyday. When the 60s hit, and “ecology” became the new buzz word, the factories stopped. In the 70s, the factories closed their doors, and people like my ex-husband went to China to set up new factories, so pollution would no longer be a “not in my back yard” phenomenon… but it became China’s. Child labor? I’m hearing that we’re back where our industrial revolution was when my grandfather left school in the third grade, and was forced into factory work (like the story cited).

    And it really ticks me off.

    Yes, China’s on the move… The Ralph Lauren dress I just bought for a wedding, when I read the tags, was made in China. I think it’s time to drag out my sewing machine, find fabric made elsewhere, and go back to sewing.

    While I consider doing these things myself, notice I didn’t advocate for anyone else to follow me. I’ve always just done my own thing, so I have no regrets in life… That’s all it’s about, really.

    I eat organically, but haven’t asked anyone else to join me. It’s all about personal decisions. This is an intuitive decision, and I’ve put it out there. In a few years, you’ll be seeing lots more of this. Age has taught me that the things I think, eventually become mainstream at some point. That’s the beauty of age, since beauty is stolen from the young and transformed into wisdom… It’s got to go somewhere, right?

    So, I’m personally sticking to wine where I know the vit and enology practices… Just sayin’

    I appreciate your comments… I sincerely do. I got you thinking and you’ll also be making your own decisions, based on your own values. That’s a great thing… Thanks…

  4. Jo Diaz says:


    I’m impressed… really impressed. You’ve got great thoughts, and your thinking may force importers to prove that they’ve got advanced practices in both vit and enology.

    I’m a huge believer in “I am what I eat… And my body is my temple.”

    I don’t want any of China’s pollution to my (or anyone else’s) life… But, I don’t make decisions for anyone but myself. I may now have to give up Ralph Lauren, but there it is. (The dress I just bought had “Made in China” for tags… I almost died when I saw that Ralph Lauren has gone the way of all others.)

    I stopped a lot of personal pollution in the 60s, and haven’t gone back to those things to this day.

    I do believe that there should be certificates of cleanliness. We do it with US wines. Why should wines coming in from China be any different, especially with the stories that leak out.

    A trip to Portugal last fall taught me how clean this country is with all of their practices for vit and enology… (They just never used anything synthetic.) We don’t demand certification at this point for imports. We all – also – can’t afford to just up and travel to these countries to see what they’re doing, but the stories of the families in charge of their vineyards definitely begin to give us a clue.

    I just want a really high quality of life based on my choices. If I have diseases later in life, I pretty much gave them to myself, based on my choices. Life’s that simple, for the most part.

  5. margo says:

    This is a very insightful and helpful topic that you discussed here. My attention was caught by the word Pneu mono ultra microscopic silico volcano coni osis. Is this also considered as the longest word in the dictionary? I once heard about this through my cousin’s forwarded text message and she said that it is the longest word. 🙂


    my blog: Capricorne insecte

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Yes, Margo, it is the longest word in the dictionary at 45 letters long. Thanks for the link to your site. Very interesting… finding the treating the Capricorne insects. that’s a very specialized field.

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