THE GREEN BEAN: Arsenic Found in Crops

Zoyachubby (Flickr)

Concerns rise over the known carcinogen found in our food

Once it’s known that an unhealthy substance appears within a popular foodstuff, there tends to be second thoughts on continuing its consumption. However, the carcinogens found in the contents of rice products, fruit juices and even drinking water is possibly due to a natural phenomenon.

Arsenic’s agricultural history dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries when certain pesticides contained the toxin. Presently, the U.S. has bans on most of these pesticides, but the cancerous chemical continues to make its way to the supermarket shelves. Likely, the arsenic typically comes from the soil and water which the crop was grown with, in addition to the past and current uses of the element today.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the chronic effects of ingesting the chemical are associated with an “increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, and also to bladder, liver and lung cancer.” (EPA: Hazard Summary)

Recent studies by Consumer Reports suggest a cutback on arsenic consumption, specifically found inside rice and rice-based products. As of now, no federal limits exist relating to the amount of arsenic allowed in food, therefore causing people to doubt whether the chemical possesses harmful traits at all. It is arsenic in its inorganic form that studies tested for, as the arsenic organic compound is said to be “essentially nontoxic.” (EPA: Hazard Summary)

If the potential dangers of the chemical are still of severe concern, it’s best to remain calm about the recent findings. Rice continues to be a necessary grain in the everyday diet of the world. Government agencies such as EPA and the Food and Drug Administration  are the ones who need to take charge over this found toxin.

“Much additional research is needed before we can determine if there are actual health impacts from this source of exposure [to arsenic],” assistant professor, Terry Punshon of Dartmouth College said.

Better to wait on further investigations than to immediately eliminate rice from a diet, and replacing it with food that’s less than healthy.

- Vanessa Soncco, Staff Writer and Photographer 


  1. Well, as my luck is soooo bloody amazing, I was eating rice when I was reading this. So, I take special interest in this little intriguing article, which by the way was both objective and thoroughly detailed, and will be sure to send word should I succumb to arsenic and affirm this for ya.

  2. Interesting well written as to convince me that it is not necessary for me to eliminate rice from my diet......super ! Because it's one of my favorite staples.

    I'll be watching for more articles from this staff writer, V. Soncco


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