A plan to conduct a nationwide survey to find pollution levels of cadmium in soil across China was announced this week by China's Ministry of Land and Resources.

The search, without an announced start or deadline, is because of concern about excessive cadmium content in rice detected in some regions of the country earlier this year, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

This cadmium content is making the government admit that they are aware some regions of the country have heavily polluted soil and water where crops are grown, especially rice. Without question according to sources, the ministry knows from previous investigations that there is heavy pollution near the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, although data has not been shared.

Reportedly stringent action against environmental pollution has been called for in recent times, but the pollution is likely to have built up over time in the soil. There also has been no suggestion that water pollution has been greatly reduced—or at least no bragging of success at this time.

Although completion of the survey or data release was not announced, there are reports that rice producers and millers in the Hunan province want to locate the cause of excessive cadmium in rice ahead of the next harvest season.

Oryza.com rice newsletter reports that “rice sales have plunged to almost half after excessive cadmium in rice in Guangzhou city in Southern China was traced to Hunan province. Following the reports, some rice mills have been closed down and some rice products from the region recalled.”

“The Hunan province contributes around 11-15 percent of China’s annual rice production of around 145 million tons. If soil tests confirm that excessive cadmium in rice from the region is due to soil and water contamination, the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on rice in the province could be adversely affected. It could also increase China’s rice import requirements higher than the estimated 3 million tons in 2013-14,” Oryza further suggested.

Prior to this announced soil pollution survey, the government has refused to talk about polluted soil with the Ministry of Environmental Protection reportedly claiming such information is a state secret.