Environmental footprint of China's food security policies

Updated: 2015-06-04 14:50

By Cecilia Tortajada(Chinadaily.com.cn)

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China’s livestock, primarily pigs and cattle, but also poultry, similarly represent serious sources of pollution. Large amounts of animal wastes are polluting surface and groundwater, both accidentally and deliberately, from family, village and communal farms and feedlots. This is creating enormous health and environmental problems.

Since places with the highest agricultural pollution are also those with the highest domestic and industrial pollution the contamination is compounded. The Yangtze River is one example where a dangerous mix of pollutants continue endangering the health of the river and reducing drinking water quality due to eutrophication and presence of other toxic substances.

Food and environmental securities are key priority issues for China. However, they need to be viewed within a framework that simultaneously considers agricultural policies, management practices and environmental protection measures for land and water. In China, like in most other countries, formulation of policies that would respond to a growing wealthy and educated population demanding concurrently more protein-rich diets and also improved quality of life and cleaner environments, still need to be strengthened.

Decades of focus on economic growth has ensured hundreds of millions of Chinese have now entered middle class. Now, one of the country’s priorities has to be how to overcome decades of heady economic growth without appropriate environmental considerations that have contributed to serious environmental and health problems.

Cecilia Tortajada is a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and past President of the International Water Resources Association.

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