Sun, Jan 28, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Contaminated rice to be pulled off shelves

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Traces of the pesticide chlorphrifos have been detected in organic rice from two of the nation's regions that produce rice, prompting the government to issue a demand that all the rice left on shelves be pulled.

The pesticide showed up during routine testing by the Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) at the Council of Agriculture (COA).

The COA has requested that the rice be withdrawn from the market despite the tiny amount of pesticide present, 0.02 parts per million.

"We apply the strictest standards to organic produce" said Wang Chang-ying (王長瑩) of the AFA.

Chlorphrifos is a pesticide that is approved for use in conventional rice crops as long as residue levels do not exceed 0.1 parts per million, according to Wang.

Su Mun-rong (蘇慕容), the deputy director of Tse-Xin Organic, one of the four certifying organizations for organic produce in the nation, said cross-contamination was to blame for the chemical residue in the field it certified as organic in Yinchuan (銀川), Hualien.

There are 313 hectares of organic rice grown in Yinchuan, making it the largest rice producing region in Taiwan.

"We had an extremely wet spring," Su said. "The field affected was next to a field where rice was being grown conventionally and the runoff must have overflowed into the organic field."

Tse-Xin's internal testing did not uncover any pesticide traces.

According to Su, the conventional fields and the organic fields are separated by a soil berm and six rows of rice -- about 3m in all.

"We are going to learn from this incident," she said.

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