1. Arsenic in Rice: New Report Finds "Worrisome Levels" (ABC News)
"A major consumer magazine is warning Americans to limit how much rice they eat because of concerns over arsenic.
According to a sobering report released to "Good Morning America" by Consumer Reports magazine this morning, rice eaten just once a day can drive arsenic levels in the human body up 44 percent. Rice eaten twice a day can lead to a 70 percent increase in arsenic.
"We think that consumers ought to take steps to moderate their consumption," said Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports tested many forms of rice for arsenic, from cereal for babies and adults, to brown and white whole grain, pasta and drinks. More than 60 rice and rice products were tested overall, including name brands.
Many contained what the magazine calls "worrisome levels of arsenic"— some products had up to five times higher levels than the arsenic found in oatmeal and one and a half times more than EPA's legal standard for drinking water.
he researchers also found geographical distinctions in arsenic levels, with white rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, containing higher levels than rice samples from other parts of the country. Those four states account for 76 percent of domestic rice produced.
Inorganic arsenic is considered a level one carcinogen, linked to lung and bladder cancer. Today, the FDA will announce it has concerns about rice and arsenic and is studying the issue, but in the meantime recommends a varied diet. Consumer Reports calls for more.
"Foods really shouldn't be any different and as we look at the levels we're finding in these products there needs to be a standard set for these foods already," Rangan said. "We called for that on apple juice in January, we're calling for that again in rice products today" referring to a January investigation of data released by the FDA of arsenic levels in apple and grape juice.
Surprisingly, when it comes to arsenic the less nutritional white rice is better than brown. The carcinogen is most prevalent in the outer layers of the grain and white rice is polished removing some of those layers.
Consumer Reports suggests rice eaters limit themselves to one serving a day, especially for babies. Rinsing and then boiling rice in a 6 to 1 water ratio removes about 30 percent of its arsenic. They also caution that children under the age of 5 should not be given rice drinks as part of their daily diet.
"We're not saying never do that," Michael Hansen, senior scientist on the Consumer Reports study said. "We're saying it should be very infrequent."
Although no products were named in the report, Nestle, the parent company of Gerber, said in an unsolicited statement to ABC News "all Gerber products are safe to consume, including Gerber rice cereal and Gerber SmartNourish organic brown rice cereal." They added that although they monitor arsenic levels, consumer concern led them to "exclusively use California rice in the production of our rice-containing infant nutrition products… because California rice has the lowest naturally occurring arsenic levels for rice grown in the United States."
The USA rice federation does not dispute the findings, but says the results are overblown since there is no documented evidence of actual illness linked to rice.
"These are very, very low levels," Dr James R. Coughlin, president and founder of Coughlin & Associates, an independent toxicology consulting company for the USA Rice Federation, said. "Rice is a safe and nutritious food and in fact people who consume rice more frequently in their diets are actually healthier than other Americans."
Rice contains more arsenic than other grains experts say, because it is grown while submerged in water. Arsenic does appear naturally in the earth, but Consumer Report says levels have been increased by use of arsenic-laced fertilizer.
Consumer Reports scientists explain that arsenic is fed to chickens, turkey, and pigs, and their manure is used as fertilizer for rice and other crops.
"All of those uses introduce arsenic into our environment, into our food supply, and we essentially are doing a lot of things to ourselves that deliberately introduce arsenic into food supply," Rangan said.
This report follows a February Dartmouth report that found organic products containing brown rice syrup could have high arsenic levels."
2. Study Finds Rats Fed Monsanto's GMO Corn Grew Tumors (Yahoo Health)--specific study not available
"In a study that prompted criticism from other experts, French scientists said on Wednesday that rats fed on Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller suffered tumors and multiple organ damage.
Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said rats fed on a diet containing NK603 - a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller - or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet.
Experts not involved in the study were highly skeptical about its methods and findings, with some accusing the French scientists of going on a "statistical fishing trip".
The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.
The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.
Monsanto was not immediately available for comment but the group has in the past repeatedly said its products are safe and there is no credible evidence of any health risk to humans or animals from consuming GM crops.
EXPERTS HIGHLY SKEPTICAL GMOs are deeply unpopular in Europe and many other countries, but dominate key crops in the United States after Monsanto in 1996 introduced a soybean genetically altered to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup weed killer. Experts asked by reporters to review the scientific paper advised extreme caution in drawing conclusions from it.
Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King's College London noted that Seralini's team had not provided any data on how much the rats were given to eat, or what their growth rates were.
"This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumors particularly when food intake is not restricted," he said in an emailed comment.
"The statistical methods are unconventional and probabilities are not adjusted for multiple comparisons. There is no clearly defined data analysis plan and it would appear the authors have gone on a statistical fishing trip."
Mark Tester, a research professor at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide, said the study's findings raised the question of why no previous studies have flagged up similar concerns.
"If the effects are as big as purported, and if the work really is relevant to humans, why aren't the North Americans dropping like flies? GM has been in the food chain for over a decade over there - and longevity continues to increase inexorably," he said in an emailed comment.
While supporters of GM crops say previous studies have overwhelmingly pointed to their safety, critics argue there is still limited information about the long-term effects since the crops have only been around for just over 15 years.
Seralini was part of a team that has voiced previous safety concerns based on a shorter rat study in a scientific paper published in 2009. This new study takes things a step further by tracking the animals throughout their two-year lifespan.
Monsanto said at the time of the earlier research that the French researchers had reached "unsubstantiated conclusions."
Seralini believes his latest lifetime rat tests give a more realistic and authoritative view of risks than the 90-day feeding trials that form the basis of GM crop approvals, since three months is only the equivalent of early adulthood in rats.
France's Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament's commission for agriculture and known as an opponent of GM, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of GM crops.
"This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes," he said in a statement. "National and European food security agencies must carry out new studies financed by public funding to guarantee healthy food for European consumers."
The study is also likely to create friction in the United States, where opponents of genetically engineered foods in California are fighting to have all GMOs removed from the food supply.
The California protesters are hoping to drum up support for a California ballot measure that would require food sellers to label a broad range of products, including soup, soy milk, breakfast cereals and chips, that contain GMOs."
Do you now believe (as I do) that our government is trying to kill us off? There's no limit on arsenic in foods, and GMO corn gets SUBSIDIZED! Pretty soon, those tumors will be subsidized too.