Solving the Arsenic Problem

Farmers spraying pesticide in a rice paddy

Where do we go from here?

In its recent coverage of arsenic in rice, Consumer Reports made specific requests to several federal agencies.

Consumer Reports (CR) says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should phase out use of pesticides containing arsenic, the Dept. of Agriculture and EPA should end the use of arsenic-laden manure as fertilizer, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should stop the feeding of arsenic-containing drugs to animals.

The US uses more arsenic than any other country in the world, according to CR; residues from banned lead-arsenate insecticides still linger in former cotton fields (which are in some cases current rice fields) today. Poultry are commonly fed arsenic, which ends up in poultry litter used to fertilize agricultural fields. And since rice is often grown in water-flooded fields, it’s more likely to be exposed to contaminated runoff.

Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced federal legislation Sept. 21 to limit the amount of arsenic permitted in rice and rice-based products. 

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