China is positioning itself to take the lead in world rose production. Government leaders hope investing in the flower industry will bring capital and jobs to southwestern China, and florists in the U.S. see it as an opportunity to obtain cheaper products, thereby increasing profits.

Workers in the burgeoning rose industry are mostly young women, earning an average of $25 per month, which the NYT article at least points out. Missing from the piece, though, is any thought to the health, labor, and environmental effects of the flower industry, or to how China’s flower project could engage with fairer standards.

And when, amid discussion of the perils of hand-dethorning, the article does venture into these scary questions, it retreats quickly to lighter fare:

Yet doing it by hand is an ergonomic nightmare with a strong risk of repetitive stress injuries. “My hand goes numb if I do it for a long time,” said Miss Qian, a recent high school graduate who earns $25 a month.

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Asked whether a man had ever given her roses, Miss Qian shyly murmured “yes.”

Then she blushed deeply, and turned back to her work.

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