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China’s Pollution Problem Invades Rural Areas, Threatens Food Production

July 27, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Farmers in China’s grain basket, the rainy central province of Hunan, continue to battle with industrial waste water that is contaminating the water needed to grow crops. Rural China's descent toward becoming a toxic wasteland is a result of two trends: expansion of polluting industries into rural regions far from population areas, and heavy use of chemical fertilizers. Researchers report that between eight percent and 20 percent of the country’s arable land – between 25 and 60 million acres – could be tainted by heavy metals. According to The Wall Street Journal, a five percent loss in arable land would be a disaster, severely reducing the 296 million acres currently needed to sustain the population.
Josh Chin and Brian Spegele, "China's Bad Earth", The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2013, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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