Via Shanghai Daily: 3.33m hectares of land too contaminated to grow food. Excerpt:
About 3.33 million hectares [8.15 million acres] of China’s farmland is too polluted with heavy metals and other chemicals to grow crops, a government official said yesterday, highlighting the risk facing agriculture after three decades of rapid industrial growth.
The threat from pollution to China’s food supply has been overshadowed by public alarm at smog and water contamination but is gaining attention following scandals over tainted rice and other crops.
Wang Shiyuan, vice minister of land and resources, told a news briefing that China was determined to rectify the problem and had committed “tens of billions of yuan” a year to pilot projects aimed at rehabilitating contaminated land and underground water supplies.
Wang said the polluted farmland was mostly in eastern and central parts of China which have seen rapid economic and industrial development, such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, the old industrial base in northeast China and central China’s Hunan Province.
He said no more planting would be allowed on contaminated farmland as the government was determined to prevent toxic chemicals entering the food chain.
China’s determination to squeeze as much food and resources as possible from its land has put thousands of farms close to chemical plants, mines and other heavy industries, raising the risks of contamination.
With food security still the most pressing concern, China is determined to ensure that at least 120 million hectares of land is reserved for agriculture, a policy known as the “bottom line.” The rehabilitation of polluted land is part of that policy.
A government land survey revealed traces of toxic metals dating back at least a century as well as pesticides banned in the 1980s, and state researchers have said that as much as 70 percent of China’s soil could have problems.