China has released a shocking admission that at least 3.3 million hectares of farmland is now so polluted that it is effectively dead for purposes of growing crops. To put that into perspective, it is an area the size of Belgium. It is the latest statistical insight into the costs of the continued industrial output that reaches roughly 10 percent a year. That is two percent of China’s arable land and there is a concern about whether the per capita land allocation for food production has fallen below the communist regime’s own “red line” calculation. The country now has 135 million hectares of arable land, which translates to about 1.52 mu, or about a quarter of an acre, per capita. The world average is half of an acre, or 3.38 mu per capita.
The surprising disclosure of the previously classified information cam win comments at a press conference in Beijing, Vice Minister of Land and Resources Wang Shiyuan. The figure is a result of a five-year, $1 billion soil pollution survey started in 2006. Heavy metals are responsible for a large amount of the contamination.
Other figures are equally staggering. In the most populous province, Guangdong, a study found excessive levels of toxic cadmium in more than 40 percent of rice on the market. In addition, about 28,000 rivers have vanished since 1990 with a comparable loss of drinking water to industrial pollution and over-use.
China clearly see the emerging crisis but it continues to crackdown on environmentalists and activists protesting pollution and corruption tied to local officials.
Notably, the U.S. has also seen a loss of millions of acres of farmland in recent years.