8 Million Acres of China’s Farmland Too Polluted To Grow Food
More than 8 million acres of farmland in China is so highly polluted that it is too contaminated to grow crops! This was just reported by Wang Shiyuan, deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources. Even higher pollution estimates — up to 60 million acres — are speculated by some scientists.
How did it happen?
Farmers used heavy metals (lead and cadmium) and other chemicals to grow food, a Cabinet official said. Also, there has been a heavy use of farm chemicals along with very lax environmental enforcement by the country.
The reason the toxicity went unnoticed? Partly because officials have their hands full with smog and water contamination.
Disturbingly, the government would not release the results of a nationwide survey of soil pollution, stating the information was a state secret.
A dangerous level of cadmium was found by inspectors in the rice grown in Henan, a major heavy metal-producing region. Cadmium is a carcinogenic metal that can cause kidney damage and other health problems.
China, wanting to grow as much food as possible from its land, has put thousands of farms close to chemical plants, mines and other heavy metal industries. This, of course, has increased contamination.
What is China doing to remedy this huge problem?
Farmers across China are now prohibited from growing food for human consumption in areas considered highly polluted. Wang said the government was determined to prevent toxic metals entering the food chain.
- The Communist Party has a five-year plan, promising to reduce heavy metal pollution and clean up contaminated areas.
- The government is working on a long-range plan and expects to spend several tens of billions of yuan (several billion dollars) a year on the effort according to Wang.
- Scientists say one approach could be to plant trees and other vegetation to absorb heavy metals.
Apparently this has been going on a very long time as a land survey revealed traces of toxic metals dating back a century. Researchers say that as much as 70 percent of China’s soil could have problems.
I also support the local farmers as much as I can.
What do YOU do to keep your own, and the world’s food safe?