"China has overtaken the US in the consumption of basic agricultural and industrial goods, a survey has found.
With a booming economy and 1.3bn people, it is now the world's largest consumer of grain, meat, coal and steel, said the Earth Policy Institute.
But China's insatiable demands are putting ever more pressure on the country's natural resources.
Air and water pollution are already serious problems, and there is talk of a looming ecological crisis.
China is well ahead of the US in the consumption of goods such as television sets, refrigerators and mobile phones, according to the Washington-based
Earth Policy Institute.
However, per capita consumption in China - the world's most populous country - remains far below that of the US.
According to the report:
64m tons of meat were consumed in China in 2004 compared to 38m tons in the US
258m tons of steel were used in China in 2003 compared to 104m in the US
China's factories and homes burned 40% more coal than in the US
The number of PCs in China is doubling every 28 months.
The latest official figures for the Chinese economy, the sixth-largest in the world, show it is growing at an even faster rate than expected.
It expanded by 9.5% in 2004, its highest rate for eight years, the figures show.
"China's eclipse of the United States as a consumer nation should be seen as another milestone along the path of its evolution as a world economic
leader," Lester Brown, the institute's president, said.
"China is no longer just a developing country," he said. "It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history".
The report said China's massive appetite for goods ranging from grain to platinum had placed it "at the centre of the world raw materials economy".
The treaty that was designed to save the planet still exempts the largest offenders, China and India. This is the first article that tells the truth
about China. Oh, my, the US is no longer the greatest evil toward "mother earth". Amazing stuff.............