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In China’s Heartland, A Toxic Trail Leads from Factories to Fields to Food

“Long known as China’s granary, Hunan Province has been a major rice producer for the nation’s growing and increasingly urban population. But toxic pollution from Hunan’s mines and heavy metal plants has contaminated large tracts of its once-fertile farmland and put China’s staple food supply at risk.” The second in a series by He Guangwei, a staff writer and investigative reporter with The Times Weekly, a national Chinese newspaper based in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. He was one of the winners of Chinadialogue-Guardian Environmental Press Awards in 2012.  See also China’s Dirty Pollution Secret: The Boom Poisoned Its Soil and CropsThe first part of this series details how three decades of rapid economic development in China has left a troubling legacy – widespread soil pollution that has contaminated food crops and jeopardized public health. Although they once labeled soil data a “state secret,” Chinese officials are slowly beginning to acknowledge this grave problem.”

  • report recently published in Beijing criticized the Ministry of Land’s information, complaining that the information made public still leaves it far from clear what impact pollution was having on food safety and public health. The report also pointed out that the agricultural environmental problems caused by industry and mining meant that China faces worse food safety risks than many other nations. “

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