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A Hidden Threat to Food Production: Air pollution and agriculture in the developing world

Air pollution is a growing problem in many developing countries. However, attention to date has been on its impact on human health in large cities. But as this paper demonstrates, air pollution in these cities, and in the surrounding countryside, could also have significant impacts on agricultural production. The economic, environmental and social impacts of these effects could be substantial, but the importance of this issue, and its implications for both pollution control and agricultural policy, has not been recognised by many national and international agencies. This paper examines the current and future importance of air pollution as a constraint to agricultural productivity in developing countries. It asserts that the key pollutants of concern are ground level ozone, given its potential to cause widespread yield loss in sensitive crops; and other pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which also have significant localised effects.

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