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China in the grip of a 'NUCLEAR WINTER': Smog threat to crops

Starvation fears as air pollution chokes plants ahead of harvest

Traffic in Beijing during period of heavy pollution

The heavy air pollution gripping China has become so severe that experts fear crops in the region will be unable to grow properly this season.

The South China Morning Post cites research from China Agricultural University in reporting that the air pollution which has settled over Beijing in recent months has blocked out so much sunlight that photosynthesis in plants is being slowed.

It's feared crop production in China will suffer this year as the pollution chokes plants that should otherwise be thriving.

As such, the researchers fear that much of China's farmland will see crops wither or poorly develop into the spring and summer growing seasons, putting strain on the nation's food supply and driving up prices.

"A large number of representatives of agricultural companies have suddenly showed up at academic meetings on photosynthesis in recent months and sought desperately for solutions," He Dongxian, an associate professor with China Agricultural University's College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, told the morning newspaper.

The pollution is reportedly* so heavy that the effects on agriculture are being likened to a nuclear winter; the theoretical condition which would arise when massive nuclear bombing blows debris into the atmosphere, preventing sunlight from reaching the surface.

Smog levels have climbed to epic proportions in many of China's largest cities in recent months. Last October, pollution levels in Northeastern China were recorded at 4,000 times the WHO's recommended safe exposure level. ®

* The South China Morning Post quoted an academic likening the pollution to a nuclear fallout, but that phrase has since mysteriously disappeared from the report. However, it's still in the Post's URL: "china-smog-threatens-agriculture-nuclear-fallout-conditions-warn."

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