Sri Lanka High On Cadmium in Rice

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 Sri Lanka has come second after Bangladesh for concentrations of cadmium in a listing of 12 countries where rice was tested for toxic metals, a media report said.
Cadmium had been linked to a mysterious kidney disease of which the original are still not conclusively known (chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology – CKDu) which has become increasingly prevalent in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province and is spreading.Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times newspaper said the rice study was published in the ‘Environmental Science and Technology’ magazine of the American Chemical Society on May 13.

In addition to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the study also included Cambodia, France, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Spain, Thailand and the United States of America, with field studies in China as well.

The Sunday Times said samples of rice were taken from Padaviya, Medawachchiya, Kebitigollewa, Rambewa and Sripura and Parakramapura in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa areas in Sri Lanak where CKDu is rampant.

In addition samples were also taken from several villages in Kamburupitiya in the Matara area and Ambalantota and Daragama in the Hambantota area which were the control groups. They were tested for both cadmium and arsenic.

There was “no big difference” in the cadmium levels in areas affected by the mysterious kidney disease and others areas, the newspaper quoted the study as saying.

The newspaper quoted a participating Sri Lankan researcher, Mangala C.S. De Silva of the University of Ruhuna as saying whenever researchers come up with cadmium or arsenic in rice there were major accusations that they are promoting rice flour.But they had no such intentions and Sri Lankans have eaten rice for centuries with no problem and cadmium seemed to be recent phenomenon, he had said.

“We don’t want people to stop eating rice but we just want the rice to be free of toxic substances,” the newspaper quoted De Silva as saying.

Sri Lanka has a peculiar rice nationalism, which analysts say seem to be partly related to East European-style rural nationalism and primordialism with the coercive power of the state being actively used against citizens to discourage wheat eating and keep carbohydrate prices high.

Another study has found Sri Lanka to have one of the highest consumption rates of fertilizer for a lower amount of land among rice growing countries in Asia, with a state fertilizer subsidy promoting heavy use, The Sunday Times said.

A study in 2007 has found the presence of cadmium also in fish (tilapia). Heavy metals may also be getting into the body through contaminated water, according to some reports.

Cadmium is linked to phosphate fertilizer, particularly rock phosphate. Agro chemicals have also been suspect as a source for other toxic substances, including arsenic, which tend to get accumulated in the body over time.

CKDu was now cropping up in other areas of the country, The Sunday Times said.

The newspaper quoted Moneragala Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), K S Dahanayake a saying that they were planning a study to investigate the phenomenon in the South.

CKDu has begun to emerge 1994 in the upper regions of Padaviya, Kebitigollewa and Medawachchiya in the Anuradhapura district.

It had then spread down to Rambewa, Maha Wilachchiya and Horowupotana, the newspaper quoted Channa Jayasumana, a researcher at Rajarata University as saying.

Later it had been diagnosed in Hingurakgoda and Medirigiriya in the Polonnaruwa district, Girandurukotte in the Badulla district and Dehiattakandiya in the Ampara district.

A pocket of victims has also been identified in Polpitigama, Giribewa and Nikawewa in the Kurunegala district.(Lanka Business On  Line)

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