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Decreasing Arsenic Uptake in Organic Rice Systems

Jul 05, 2013
Photo Credit:  Keith Weller, USDA

Photo Credit: Keith Weller, USDA

The Organic Center is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to conduct targeted research on the factors affecting the presence of arsenic in organically grown rice.  ARS scientists are testing stored samples of organic rice grown under controlled organic conditions at USDA research facilities, and examining the factors that directly impact the rate of arsenic accumulation in rice grown organically—varietal selection, flooding and organic compliant fertilizers. The goal is to offer future strategies to the organic sector to minimize such accumulation.

“The organic industry is committed to maintaining the safety of food, and to working proactively on solutions to help minimize the presence of arsenic, especially in certified organic foods. The Organic Center’s mission includes convening credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, so we are helping to facilitate this research,” said Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Center.

The Center is leveraging public investment it has received for research critical to the organic industry and of importance to public health. Because the studies are using stored samples, the timeline for completing the research is expected to be cut substantially. Currently, the studies are expected to offer tangible mitigation strategies for the organic sector within a year, and to be published in peer-reviewed journals by USDA scientists.

Making this research possible is a $50,000 grant to The Organic Center from the UNFI Foundation.  The Center has also channeled an additional $12,500 in support it received from the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).

“This research advances the mission of the UNFI Foundation by strengthening consumer confidence in the safety of organic rice and rice-based products through the development of organic farming practices,” said Melody Meyer, Executive Director of the UNFI Foundation. She added, “Funding this research is a timely proactive approach to protecting public health, and advancing organic farming.”

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