The Dongguan government of Guangdong Province will proceed with its plan to ban pig farming in the city from 2009, a top official said at the weekend.
And the authorities are also now considering banning poultry farming, he said.
Liang Guoying, vice-mayor of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, said in a press statement: "We made the decision after serious and thoughtful consideration. The administration has no intention of changing that decision at this stage.
"We are also considering banning poultry farming in the city," he said.
To ensure there is no detrimental impact on the supply of pork to the public, the government will make "appropriate arrangements" with pig farmers, Liang said without elaborating.
The decision to introduce the ban has received support from authorities in 26 of Dongguan's 32 towns, as it will make room for the city to develop more value-added industries, as well as helping the environment, he said.
"It's an inevitable trend of urbanization and industrial restructuring," Liang said.
He added that it was a natural process for any developing city to replace its weaker industries.
In a city with an area of 2,465 sq km and a population of more than 10 million, the government must cherish its land resources and make good use of them.
Large areas cannot be given over to raising pigs and poultry, he said.
Guan Dongsheng, a professor of ecological research at Sun Yat-sen University, said it was a wise decision from the perspective of environmental protection.
"The pork and poultry industries are responsible for a large amount of the pollution of water sources," he told China Daily yesterday.
"It is not feasible for a fast-growing city to put restrictions on industries that prop up its economy and impossible to reduce its population, so it is good to reduce pollution where it can."
But pig farmers and other academics have criticized the government for its "irresponsible" decision.
Peng Guoping, who has made his living from raising pigs for the past 26 years, said the government had failed to take the interests of pig farmers into consideration.
"The government could introduce guidelines to make the industry more environment friendly, but instead they have chosen to kill it without a word," he said.
Ding Li, a professor at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said the government is depriving pig farmers of their basic rights.
"Rather than imposing an industry-wide ban, it would be better to bring in regulations to minimize pollution and flush out those who fail to meet the standard," he was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency.
(China Daily December 11, 2007)