Tenth of China’s farmland contaminated

A tenth of China's farmland is contaminated with fertiliser, polluted water and heavy metals, threatening the country's food supply, official Chinese sources have said.

As much as 12.3m hectares of farmland are affected by pollution from liquid and solid waste, some of which makes its way into the food supply, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported.

The statistics, sourced from the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources, quantify the effects of China’s economic growth and shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy.

Heavy metal contamination was present in 12m tonnes of grain each year, causing 20bn yuan in losses, Xinhua said.

Just in the last 10 months of 2006, the total area of arable land in China had shrank by 306 hectares to 121.8m hectares, the Ministry of Land and Resources said.

The Chinese government has made it more difficult to develop farmland, and aims to guarantee 120m hectares of arable land across China to safeguard food supplies.

Goska Romanowicz

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