Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Have Some Rice with Your Arsenic?

Another article on arsenic in the environment, low on science, and high on innuendo, courtesy of Mother Jones:

Waiter, There's Arsenic in My Rice

Some low lights.
In a just released report, Consumer Reports says it found significant levels of arsenic in a variety of US rice products—including in brown rice and organic rice, and in rice-based kids' products like cereal and even baby formula. Driving the point home, CR's analysis of a major population study found that people who consume a serving of rice get a 44 percent spike in the arsenic level in their urine.
I notice no concentrations are actually mentioned. Urine is the way the body gets rid of the majority of arsenic ingested.  I would be more concerned if the arsenic was being ingested and not excreted. I'd also like to see concentrations instead of just statements concern.

The article then goes on to try to make a link between As in rice and As usage in poultry, with these two graphs:
Geographical concentration of poultry production Food & Water Watch

US rice production USDA
 You're supposed to see the rice production along the Mississippi and the poultry production in the upper map nearby, and assume the arsenic is coming from the poultry production; but look again, carefully.  If there is any overlap of the two areas, it is minimal.  Look at the areas in California.  Again, close but no cookie.  People don't grow chickens in flooded rice fields! 

They suggest that arsenic contaminated poultry litter is being used to fertilize rice fields, but again, there's no data actually supplied, just some industry gossip.

Then they haul out the old canard about As in chicken litter being responsible for As in wells in the Delmarva Peninsula, where it's pretty well known that arsenic is due to the soil and the hydrology of the region.

I ain't scared to eat some rice after reading this.

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