Alas, even the great staple of the Chinese diet – white rice – isn’t completely safe in China. While cadmium isn’t known to cause cancer, it is extremely toxic in even small amounts and will bioaccumulate in bodies and the environment. And it’s in 10% of the rice on sale at the Chinese market right now!
Says People’s Daily:
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.
Certain locations, usually places with more factories (a.k.a. Southern China), tend to have the most amounts of cadmium-polluted rice: Global Times listed Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong as particular trouble areas. It’s hard to say how much of Shanghai’s rice supply comes from those companies and there’s not much we can do about it right now so… read up on cadmium poisoning and watch out for the signs: severely aching joints and the spine, and kidney problems.