The Stream, May 16: Australia Imports Wheat for the First Time in 12 Years Amid Drought

The Global Rundown

Drought and failed crops force Australia to import wheat for the first time in 12 years. Industry lobbyists push back against the European Union’s clean water laws. Reconstruction in Mozambique in the wake of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth will require an estimated $3.2 billion in aid. China begins its first round of “intensified anti-pollution inspections.” Toxic chemicals and heavy metals infect a majority of Europe’s seas, testing shows.

“Every two and a half minutes a new chemical is created, and we do not know the effects. New pharmaceuticals are coming all the time, and getting into waste water. This is an emerging problem but we do not know what the effects will be.” –Johnny Reker, lead author of a report by the European Environment Agency analyzing at pollution levels in Europe’s seas. The study found heavy metals and toxic chemicals in 96 percent of the Baltic Sea, 91 percent of the Black Sea, and 87 percent of the Mediterranean Sea. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

$3.2 billion Amount of aid Mozambique will need to restore infrastructure in the wake of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, according to local media. The World Bank has already pledged $350 million to help repair the country’s water supply and other critical public infrastructure. Reuters

12 years Length of time since Australia has imported wheat. Australia’s winter wheat crop is expected to fall 20 percent below the 20-year average, forcing the country to import the grain for the first time since the millennium drought. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

Almost 1,000 inspectors are heading to 25 Chinese cities to conduct an initial round of “intensified anti-pollution inspections.” The inspectors will survey 26 environmental markers, including protection of drinking water and improvements in water pollution in the Yangtze River. Reuters

On the Radar

Mining, agriculture, and hydropower lobbyists are targeting clean water laws in the European Union, claiming they are too stringent. Environmentalists say the proposed changes could devastate many aquatic species and ecosystems, and 375,000 people have signed a petition opposing the changes. The Guardian

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