10% of rice on Chinese market contains cadmium in excess: Survey

09:15, February 15, 2011      

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Chemical element cadmium, toxic to the human body, has been penetrating into rice plantations via polluted soil in recent years. And a survey showed that about 10 percent of the rice on the Chinesemarket contains excessive cadmium, said a Caing.com report Monday.

Li Wenxiang, citizen of Sidi village in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has eaten the rice planted in his village for 28 years, and many citizens in the village, including Li, are suffering from aches in legs and feet, which can be attributed to cadmium. Papers from scholars have confirmed that the soil in the village has been polluted since 1960s.

In 2002, a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that 28.4 percent of the surveyed rice is contaminated with lead, and 10.3 percent with cadmium. Also, survey done by professor Pan Genxing and his research group from the Nanjing Agricultural University in 2007 showed that about 10 percent of the rice on the market contains excessive cadmium.

Besides cadmium, other elements such as copper, zinc, lead and arsenic contaminate rice plantations across the nation.

China produces nearly 200 million tons of rice per year. Pan pointed out that the country's serious pollution situation can not fundamentally change in a short period. Chen Tongbin, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said that now heavy metals pollute land that account for about 10 percent of the total, with land polluted by cadmium and arsenic reaching about 40 percent.

Experts said that China's current land rental system and basic situation of farmers' self-supply of rice contribute to the problem. According to Pan, in western countries, planting is made by farmers and large companies, and once the land is polluted, they may abandon it, while Chinese farmers have to bear the problem.

Also, the western countries usually ask the enterprises to pat funds for environmental protection and use the money to handle such problems, while the Chinese government lacks such measure.

In addition, much is to blame on the government, since most of the time it blocks information on pollution, leaving farmers unaware of the contamination of their land.

Also, the lack of supervision -or effective supervision- leaves the contaminated rice freely in the market.

Source: Global Times
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