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Over 8 million acres of farmland too polluted for crops in China

01-18-2014 14:27 BJT

By CCTV correspondent Wu Lei

Last December, a State Council official said over 8 million acres of China's farmland is so polluted with heavy metals and other toxins, it's no longer usable for growing food. Most of the polluted land is in regions which depended on industrial sectors for economic development.

Liu Xiaoniu has been farming for decades. On this land, he grows rice, winter wheat and other vegetables. But in recent years he's witnessed a sharp fall in crop yield and quality.

"The land is polluted, and the vegetables are dying. Particularly the Chinese chives. Most of the crops can't live on this soil any more," Liu says.

Liu says since the nearby oil refinery was set up near their farmland years ago, the land quality deteriorated. From time to time, they could smell the pungent waste gas. Professor Pan Genxing from Nanjing Agricultural University and his team had taken samples from the land and found the soil was polluted with heavy metals.

"Just take cadmium for example, we have found 5 milligrams of cadmium in one kilogram of soil, which exceeds the national standard by 1 milligram of cadmium in one kilogram of soil," Pan says.

Official statistics say polluted land accounts for 2 percent of China's arable land, but Professor Pan believes the number could be underestimated. The explosive growth of Chinese industry has exposed the high cost of development.

"The major cause is industrial pollution. These chemical and mining companies discharged waste gas and water. Years of pollution have made the farmland contaminated by heavy metals and toxins," Pan says.

And overuse of some fertilizers also left the farmland tainted by lead, cadmium and other toxins. It goes without saying heavy metal tainted food has health implications, scientists say it could even cause cancer in the long run.

Experts say compared to water and air, soil contamination is the most dangerous because it isn’t directly visible. With public concern over food security at a high, China has decided to invest billions of dollars a year to clean polluted soil across the country.

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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