Target: Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Halt imports of rice contaminated with lead
A report from a recent American Chemical Society meeting reveals that rice imports to the US contain 120 times the ‘provisional total tolerable intake’ (PTTI) of lead levels set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lead contamination and poisoning are harmful to several organs and the central nervous system. Exposure to lead is especially harmful to young children who can suffer serious developmental problems as a result. Given that rice is a staple in the diet of many Americans, action must be taken to stop the imports of rice until they are proven to be contaminant free.
Importing approximately 7% of its rice, rice imported to the US comes from several countries including, Italy, Bhutan, Israel, Thailand, China and India. The report found that the highest levels of lead were found in rice from China and Taiwan, but all the samples were found to have levels of lead significantly higher than FDA standards. The problem is that agricultural standards and practices in other parts of the world are very different than those in the US. For instance, China and India are known to irrigate their crops with raw sewage and untreated industrial effluent. As a result, many heavy metals like lead find their way into the rice.
Researchers believe that part of the problem is the practice of sending electronic waste to developing countries. As lead scientist Dr. Tsanangurayi Tongesayi says, “with a globalized food market, we eat food from every corner of the world, but pollution conditions are… different from region to region, agricultural practices are different from region to region, but we ignore that.” In other words, when we ship our electronic waste to China we may be inadvertently putting heavy metals into our rice. The FDA is currently looking into the situation, but in the mean time we must stop imports of contaminated rice. Sign the petition below to rid US rice imports of lead contamination.
Dear Commissioner Margret Hamburg,
A recent study has revealed that US imports of rice contain levels of lead which are 120 times higher than the provisional total tolerable intake levels set by the FDA. Many Americans are reliant on rice as a dietary staple. Given that lead poisoning is harmful to our organs and central nervous system, we must act quickly to stop imports of contaminated rice.
Part of the problem is that agricultural practices in exporting countries like China and India are very different. Both countries are known to irrigate their rice with raw sewage and industrial effluent. Moreover, the current practice of sending our electronic waste to developing countries which we import food stuffs from is exacerbating the problem. Our own heavy metal waste is finding its way into the water used to irrigate the rice. Please act quickly to stop contaminated rice imports.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: IRRI images via Wikimedia Commons