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One-fifth of Chinese farmland is polluted, study says

Nearly one-fifth of China’s available farmland is polluted.

By
Ed Adamczyk
A Chinese farmer plants seedlings on an organic farm sponsored by international companies in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. (File/UPI/Stephen Shaver)
A Chinese farmer plants seedlings on an organic farm sponsored by international companies in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. (File/UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

BEIJING, April 18 (UPI) -- Nearly one-fifth of China’s available farmland is polluted, a government report said.

Issued Thursday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources, it said 16.1 percent of the country’s land was polluted, as was 19.4 percent of its farmland, citing “human industrial and agricultural activities” as the cause. The report was based on a study, from 2005 to 2013, on land across China.

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China's rapid industrialization, a lack of regulations and a dominance of commercial interests were cited as the cause.

The most common pollutants are cadmium, nickel and arsenic, three materials whose presence in soil have risen sharply since 1986. The cadmium level in southwestern land increased by 50 percent since 1986, and southern Chinese soil is more severely polluted than that in the north, the report said.

It confirms fears that the quality of Chinese farmland is in decline, and follows a December 2013 news conference at which Wang Shiyuan, vice minister of land and resources, warned that eight million acres of Chinese farmland, an area the size of Maryland, were contaminated to the point farming should be stopped there.

[New York Times]

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