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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Arsenic theory not diminished rice consumption

Daily News 04/08/2011

The allegations of Arsenic presence in rice and pesticides by a group of scientists at Rajarata University have not affected the rice consumption in Sri Lanka, said Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute Deputy Director Research Dr Rupasena Liyanapathirana.

There has been a sharp increase in rice consumption instead, said Dr Liyanapathirana. The rice consumption has increased from 1.9 million metric tons to 2.2million metric tons over the last five years, he said.

Asked if they had conducted any research on arsenic content in rice, Liyanapathirana said they are currently gathering information about the allegation concerned, but they were unable to find any established theory to support this allegation.

Meanwhile, Registrar of Pesticides office in Peradeniya blamed the scientists at Rajarata University for creating any unwarranted fear in throughout the country over pesticides in rice. Pesticide Registrar Dr Anura Wijesekara said the scientists at Rajarata are yet to establish the truth about their findings concerning Arsenic presence in rice and pesticides.

They are expected to establish whether it was Arsenic in pesticides that caused the death of many farmers in agricultural areas due to kidney disease.

They have leaked their allegations and assumptions before they have been verified and this should not have been the case, Wijesekeara explained. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Customs is holding up 15 truck loads of pesticides at the port.

They have been lying there for nearly two months for tests to be conducted for the presence of Arsenic and other hazardous chemicals. A Customs official said the consignments will be released after tests while importers have questioned about the delay in the release of their goods.