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Climate change threatens China's food safety
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China is likely to face inadequate food supply by 2030 if the current climate change trend continues, warns a new Greenpeace report released Wednesday.

A girl observes rice ears with her teacher in a kindergarten in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, October 15 2008, as part of lessons to teach children to cherish food. [China Daily]

A girl observes rice ears with her teacher in a kindergarten in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, October 15 2008, as part of lessons to teach children to cherish food. [China Daily] 

If the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) continues to be high, the impact of climate change - including rise in temperature, loss of arable land, shortage of water and extreme weather - could reduce China's overall food production by 23 percent by 2050, the report said.

"China's agriculture sector is already suffering from the impact of climate change," said Lin Erda, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. For instance, winter wheat grown in the northern part of China has become less resistant to cold because of warmer winters during the past several years.

This has made it more vulnerable to freezing temperatures in early spring and thus reduced productivity, said Lin, who is also one of China's top climate experts.

As much as 50 million hectares of crops in China are threatened by climatic disasters every year, the Greenpeace report says.

China's ability to adapt to such changes is still weak because it lacks state-of-the-art technologies and financial support, Lin said. The country needs "new technologies to solve these new problems" and, as a developing nation, needs the help of the developed world to fight the threats of global warming.

There is a huge gap between the developing countries' need for financial support and what the developed countries offer at present, Lin said.

The report, commissioned by Greenpeace and prepared by China's top climate experts and agronomists, calls for immediate action to reduce GHG emissions and adopt a more climate-friendly farming system.

The report identifies "ecologically friendly" agriculture as a possible solution for China to feed the world's largest population in a sustainable way. Ecological agriculture encourages reduced dependence on fertilizers and pesticides to maintain soil fertility. It uses biofuel to cut carbon dioxide emission, and helps increase biodiversity in farming to prevent plant diseases.

Compared with the destructive chemical and fossil-energy intensive agriculture, ecological farming can better fight the threats of climate change, Lin said.

(China Daily October 16, 2008)

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