Saturday, February 26, 2011

China, ctd....

Did some surfing on my own and found this re: heavy metal pollution and grain in China. This appears to be Kevin's source.


Here's more on the problem.

 Meanwhile, both central government agencies and local governments in charge of areas with heavy metal pollution remained silent.
All this shrugging-off is unacceptable. It’s a fact that excessive levels of cadmium were found in rice grown in several areas, and the public had the right to be informed.
It’s true cadmium poisoning is not as dangerous as, say, cyanide. And contamination levels found so far have not been too much higher than the levels considered safe. But these arguments are outweighed by the widely recognized danger to human health posed by the accumulation of cadmium in the body. In fact, heavy metal poisoning tends to be chronic, and any clinical evidence may take years to surface.
Already, we’ve seen cases of heavily polluted rice fields in some areas of the Guangxi region and Hunan Province. Some villages in these areas have reported local citizens with symptoms of cadmium poisoning. Meanwhile, rice is still being grown in paddies laced with cadmium. It’s also being sold and eaten in those areas.
Thus, government inaction in the face of this toxic threat has – and continues to – put human health at risk. And the public should be made aware of the wider problem of heavy metals polluting the nation’s farms. Not only cadmium but also by other toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, copper and zinc may be tainting the nation’s rice as well as other crops.
China has given a lot of attention to food safety in recent years. But soil pollution is the greatest threat to the nation’s food safety. Even the government’s environmental protection authorities have conceded this fact. Up to 12 million tons of grain are estimated to be tainted by heavy metals every year, costing the economy more than 20 billion yuan. Human health is jeopardized as harmful substances from polluted soil make their way into crops and our bodies, causing disease.
All this heavy metal pollution has persisted due to prolonged government failure to act. Tackling soil pollution is difficult, but authorities should not use technical hurdles as an excuse to ignore the problem. Nor should they hide the truth or play down the problem for fear of public panic. Instead, government officials should take advantage of this new spike in interest to review their environment, farm and food management practices, and then take a holistic approach to tackling the problem. [More]
As you can tell from the above source (read the whole article) this event will be used to buttress the case against industrial agriculture and many modern farming techniques in favor of agrarian ag.  But you can't get much more agrarian than China right now.

What is suggests to me is we may be picking exactly the wrong time to decide we are victims of too much environmental regulation. All of our carping about the costs of compliance will seem pretty petty when confronted with a public that wants to know how we will prevent such a mess here in the US.

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