30 Jun 2014: Tainted Harvest: An e360 Special Report

China’s Dirty Secret: The Boom Poisoned Its Soil and Crops

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.
The first in a series.

by he guangwei
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Thank you for the thorough exploration of this topic. Much of the "bite-size" holiday candy and other treats sold in the U.S. are made in China. These products are made with ingredients grown in China. U.S. Customs tests a limited number of products for a limited number of potential contaminants. Since our children eat many products imported from China it seems logical that the question of contaminated soil there is more than a local issue.

We use China to feed our insatiable want for circumventing costs of good environmental and social stewardship. We reap questionable health, safety, and social downsides of "cheaper" daily.
Posted by Lea Cullen Boyer on 30 Jun 2014

An internet search on the words:
Soil remediation, biochar
has just found me 46,200 results, of which most on the first few pages were scientific studies of this technique's strong potential.

Given that a research study of the satellite data published earlier this year showed that Albedo Loss due to cryosphere decline,
being just one of the eight major positive feedbacks on AGW observed to be accelerating,
gave an average warming equal to that from 25\% of anthro-CO2 from 1979-2013,
it is increasingly obvious that mitigation of AGW by Emissions Control alone is not remotely commensurate with the problem:
geo-engineering, in both its Carbon Recovery and Albedo Restoration modes,
will have to be applied to avoid the proximate catastrophic effect of serial global crop failures, let alone for controlling the longer term threats.

Of the options for Carbon Recovery, Biochar sourced from native afforestation of non-farmland is outstanding.
Two other options, being BECCS (Biomass Energy for CO2 Capture and Storage) and DACCS (Direct Air Capture of CO2 and Storage)
both suffer insuperable problems of scale, cost, leakage, and unverifiability,
not least because they attempt to sequester 3.664 times the tonnage of material in a toxic high-pressure liquid form as does the plowing in of Biochar.

Given the remarkable co-benefits of using Biochar in a global mitigation strategy of CRFS (Carbon Recovery for Food Security) which include:
- raised farm yields and drought resistance,
the remediation of the mobility of soil contamination,
- a very large area of high-biodiversity native afforestation,
- a major new source of rural employment globally,
- a co-product output from waste gasses of methanol (a versatile liquid fuel),
- the program being partly self funding due to its two revenue streams,
- and the minimization of the period in which a global program of Albedo Restoration is inevitably required to control the symptoms of excess airborne GHGs,
perhaps it is time that E360 launched a serious study of Biochar's essential role and co-benefits in the mitigation of AGW ?


Posted by Lewis Cleverdon on 30 Jun 2014

The sad part of this is that we here in Australia are importing and buying food from China, not knowing how good or bad it is. Whilst we let our own crops and farmers go down the drain as being too expensive. Better to pay more for safe food than bring in foodstuffs from China and not know what contamination we are eating.
Posted by John Duczek on 01 Jul 2014

Probably China has learned it from the Western world, where we've known this sort of problem for a long time. I hope they are able to solve it.
Posted by Ric on 02 Jul 2014

I'm not surprised by this, actually — articles about China's massive pollution problems imply that any crops grown there are also polluted.

This first article begs the question: How much polluted food is China exporting, and where?

Personally, I avoid Chinese sourced food products whenever possible. We have plenty of US foods to buy instead.
Posted by Mary Harte on 07 Jul 2014

Excellent article. Some of these problems apply to other developing countries also.
Dr. A. Jagadeesh, Nellore (AP), India
Posted by Dr.A.Jagadeesh on 14 Jul 2014


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