From: Reuters
Published May 1, 2006 12:00 AM

China Bans Waste Discharges Near Croplands

BEIJING — China's legislature passed a law on Saturday barring sewage or chemical waste discharges into agricultural areas in an effort to improve the safety of produce, state media said.

Factories pouring waste into China's waterways and skies have raised concerns about the safety of food and even sparked unrest in the country, which according to the World Bank boasts 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities.

The law, which takes effect on November 1, is in response to a series of food safety incidents caused by air, soil or water pollution seeping into croplands, Xinhua news agency said.

"Therefore, the law forbids to discharge sewage, waste gas and solid waste or other poisonous substances to the agricultural production areas," it said.

It also bans growing or harvesting produce in areas where poisonous and harmful substances exceed statutory levels.

The law also regulates the use of fertiliser, pesticides, veterinary medicine, feed and feed additives, it said.

The China representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) voiced concern earlier this month about the safety of the country's food, noting that China was a major consumer of fertiliser, herbicides, pesticides and hormones.

Noureddin Mona said the problem was a public health issue and a big concern for China.

Anger over pollution has sparked unrest in some areas.

In Xinchang city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, a group of villagers stormed the Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company last July, forcing its closure and clashing with police. Farmers had complained that its chemical waste was poisoning their river and stunting their crops.

Even as lawmakers were approving the measures, Xinhua news agency reported that an 8-km (5-mile) pollution belt in a river in the southern province of Guangdong had threatened supplies of safe drinking water to 40,000 people.

The slick in the Sanchajiang river in Wuchuan city turned the water brown, killed off fish and poisoned livestock. The local government told waterworks to stop drawing on the river and urged local markets to stop selling fish.

A preliminary investigation showed that the pollutants were illegally discharged by an enterprise upstream, Xinhua said early on Saturday, citing Wuchuan's environmental protection bureau.

Source: Reuters

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