In the past few days, there has been an increasing discussion of the effects heavy metal pollution is having on China's environment and people's health and well-being. An article in Century Weekly Magazine claims up to 10% of China's rice crop (meaning nearly 20 million tonnes of grain)may be contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium.
We think this is a very serious issue, because unlike prior food safety issues such as the tragic melamine scandal, the heavy metal problem reflects a fundamental reality of China's industrial development structure and will be much tougher to repair. Challenges will come from the politics of industrial restructuring, as well as the fact that heavy metal pollution can take years to remove from the environment. If metals pollution forces farmers to abandon certain croplands, the effects on food security in China and global grain prices could be significant.
An in-depth report on the subject by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs can be found at: http://www.eu-china.net/web/cms/upload/pdf/materialien/IT-heavy-metal-pollution-english_10-06-03.pdf
. We are curious to hear what readers have to say on this vital issue.