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Chinese official: 8 million acres of farmland too polluted to use for crops

A Cabinet official says more than 8 million acres of China's farmland is too polluted with heavy metals and other waste to be used for growing food.

The comments Monday by Wang Shiyuan, a deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources, highlight a problem that is attracting growing public attention.

The figure given by Wang would be about 2 percent of China's 337 million acres of arable land. Some scientists have given much higher estimates, saying as much as 60 million acres of farmland is polluted.

China's government triggered complaints in February when it refused to release results of a nationwide survey of soil pollution. Wang said he was citing Environment Ministry data but did not make clear whether it was the pollution survey.