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A Tenth of China's Arable Land Polluted

Pollution in China has damaged 10 million hectares…or one tenth…of the country's arable land, said the country's environment watchdog Tuesday as it called for an expansion of grass-roots monitoring in rural areas.


China faces severe soil pollution problems which jeopardize the ecology, food safety, the health of people and the sustainable development of agriculture, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).


It’s estimated that each year 12 million tons of grain are contaminated by heavy metals in the soil. This causes direct economic losses of more than 20 billion yuan (around US$2.5 billion), the SEPA said.


Irrigated sewage, scrap metal and acid rain are all blamed for contaminated crops. China has about 120 million hectares of arable land. This is 13 percent of the country’s total land area.


And despite the efforts of SEPA's 160,000 environmental officials the overall picture shows little encouragement for optimism. Prevention is weak especially in rural areas and currently there’s no legislation covering soil and poultry raising pollution.


Though over one million factories in the country are generating pollution there are only 50,000 environmental monitoring and inspection personnel at various levels, the SEPA said.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2006)

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