China promises greater efforts to protect its soil ecosystems
By Du Zhuoran, Zhu Shuying

China is vowing to step up its efforts to protect its soil, officials from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment told a press conference on Friday.

Tough measures on pollutants have been put in place and over 10,000 companies put under regulation since the Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law took effect in January.

According to the newly established Department of Soil Ecology and Environment, 280 billion yuan, or nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars, have been allocated to soil protection. Officials say more preventive measures are on the way.

"We will start by promoting soil protection through television, newspaper and social media to raise people's awareness," said Su Kejing, the department's director. "We will also improve the supporting legal system to strengthen supervision and penalties."

The ministry's stepping up of efforts to tackle farmland pollution is also aimed at further strengthening the nation's food security. Since the Action Plan for Soil Pollution Prevention and Control took effect three years ago, more than 1,300 enterprises in heavy metal businesses have been shut down. Some 700 pollution sources have been regulated to prevent toxic, and possibly carcinogenic, substances from entering the food chain and groundwater.

"The safety utilization rate of infected farmland is hoped to reach 90% by 2020, which will fundamentally fulfill our plan in the Action Plan for Soil Pollution Prevention and Control," said Su.