Report Finds Cadmium in China Rice Crops

Food safety has been a persistent problem in China in recent years. Now consumers are warned that rice — the staple food for most Chinese — may contain high levels of the dangerous metal cadmium.

Citing a 2007 survey by Nanjing Agricultural University researchers, Beijing-based New Century Magazine reports that between 10 to 60 percent of rice, sold in six regions in China, contain cadmium. In one sample, the cadmium content was five times the legal limit.

Cadmium can cause bone softening and fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Researchers say contamination happens when industrial waste pollutes the soil and metals, like cadmium and lead, are absorbed by rice crops.

Researchers found most of the contaminated rice in southern China, where industrial activity is more concentrated.

Water and soil pollution is a serious problem in China. Authorities have largely failed to protect the environment in the wake of rapid industrialization over the years.