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Trouble in the air for food production as urban pollution hits rural development

Concern over air pollution has traditionally been focused on urban situations. Fresh evidence from a study by an Imperial College research team, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and research partners in India and Pakistan, suggests that air pollution from cities could have a significant impact on agricultural production and livelihoods in less developed countries. It is likely that ground level ozone, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are already affecting crops in many peri-urban areas. The researchers warn that official policies aimed at increasing crop yields and food security could prove ineffective unless they take pollution factors into account and prescribe pollution prevention or reduction measures. Their risk assessment focuses on India, where they identify innovative pollution assessment and reduction measures that represent a departure from the orthodox command-and-control approach to Clean Air regulations and policies.