There's arsenic in your rice -- and here's how it got there
By Twilight Greenaway / grist.org
Sep 26, 2012

Rice. It’s just one of the basics, right? Whether eaten on its own, or in products like pastas or cereal, this inexpensive and healthy food is a staple for Asian and Latino communities, as well as the growing number of people looking to avoid gluten.

Here’s the bad news (cue Debbie Downer sound effect): The food most of us think we have more or less locked down is shockingly high in arsenic. And arsenic, especially the inorganic form often found in rice, is a known carcinogen linked to several types of cancer, and believed to interfere with fetal development.

According to new research by the Consumers Union, which took over 200 samples of both organic and conventionally grown rice and rice products, nearly all the samples contained some level of arsenic, and a great deal of them contained enough to cause alarm. While there is no federal standard for arsenic in food, according to the Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, one serving of rice may have as much inorganic arsenic as an entire day’s worth of water. (They’ve also created a useful chart of various rice products, rice brands, and their arsenic levels.)

Rice often readily absorbs arsenic from soil where chemical-heavy cotton once grew. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

How does rice compare to other grains like wheat and oats? It turns out it’s much higher because of two main factors: How and where rice is grown. The November issue of Consumer Reports,released today, breaks down both phenomena. First, the how:

Rice absorbs arsenic from soil or water much more effectively than most plants. That’s in part because it is one of the only major crops grown in water-flooded conditions, which allow arsenic to be more easily taken up by its roots and stored in the grains.

Then, the where:

In the U.S. as of 2010, about 15 percent of rice acreage was in California, 49 percent in Arkansas, and the remainder in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. That south-central region of the country has a long history of producing cotton, a crop that was heavily treated with arsenical pesticides for decades in part to combat the boll weevil beetle.

0.0 ·
0
Featured Pay Per View Films
Generation Revolution (2017)
72 min
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min
Trending Today
Paramedic's Response to "Burger Flippers" Making an Equal $15/Hour is Beautiful
Craig Carilli11,410 views today ·
The Surprising Nobility of Shit: a Serious Response to President Donald Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Remarks About African Immigrants
Adebayo Akomolafe8,502 views today ·
If MLK Sneezed (MLK's Last Speech)
5 min3,861 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley2,378 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,294 views today ·
Top 15 Documentaries That Explain Why the Occupy Wall Street Movement Was Born
Tim Hjersted1,126 views today ·
A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets
George Lakoff1,112 views today ·
Wish I Voted for Sanders, Says Laid-Off Carrier Worker Duped by 'Con Man' Trump
Jake Johnson1,028 views today ·
A Quest for Meaning (2017)
88 min1,002 views today ·
Load More


Love Films For Action? 

It's hard to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going.
If you feel like you get some value from this library, consider making a donation today.

Join us on Facebook
There's arsenic in your rice -- and here's how it got there