Arsenic and New Science: FIU scientist is trying to take the risk out of rice.

Let’s see what’s on this week’s dinner menu.

Monday: pasta and cheese sauce with broccoli

Tuesday: salmon burgers and asparagus over a bed of rice and arsenic

Wednesday—Wait a minute. Arsenic?

I was disturbed to read a Consumer Reports study about the prevalence of arsenic in rice, which is one of my favorite menu staples. According to an article in the November 2012 issue of the magazine, most of the 223 samples of rice products it analyzed—from baby cereal to basmati—contained detectable amounts of the toxic metal. In addition, arsenic levels were found to be higher in brown rice than in white rice.

Further analysis by Consumer Reports showed that rice eaters had 44 percent higher levels of arsenic in their urine than those with rice-free diets.

Those findings come as no surprise to Barry Rosen, a molecular biologist at Florida International University who’s been studying arsenic, a human carcinogen, for more than 30 years. Rosen and his collaborators are working to reduce arsenic levels by genetically engineering rice grains that will vaporize the toxin. Continue reading