CHINESE SOIL SAMPLES REVEAL DECADES OF HEAVY METALS
Soil samples show remnants of heavy metals and banned pesticides, according to an official, revealing the extent of China's pollution. In addition to traces of the 666 pesticide banned in the 1980s, the soil showed remains of industrial air pollution as well as toxic metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium dating as far back as 100 years. Zhuang Guotai, head of the ecological department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, tied the heavy pollution to an agricultural boom that has seen grain production double while the workforce shrank. "There is a cost behind the nine consecutive years of bumper grain harvests," he said at a conference. "They rely on the heavy use of fertilizer, but the country needs to boost grain production so it is quite a difficult issue." He noted that as much as 65 percent of fertilizer is improperly left to pollute water supplies and fields, and 70 percent of China's soil is affected. The data, which took four years to compile, is set to be released within the next two months but is currently a "state secret." However, the head of the rural department of the state planning bureau warned that disclosure may be dangerous, saying the dairy industry had yet to recover from the 2008 melamine scandal. For the full story, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/10/us-china-pollution-idUSBRE93905Q20130410.