Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.16
By Fatih Karimov - Trend: Forty-four tons of contaminated rice has been obliterated in Iran's Jolfa border (with Nakhchivan), IRNA reported on Dec. 16.
The destroyed rice was valued at 750 million rials (about $30,000 based on the U.S. dollar official exchange rate of 24,800 rials).
The contaminated rice was discovered in a smuggled consignment at the Jolfa border customs office.
Five varieties of Iranian rice and two from India and Pakistan were contaminated, Sousan Sadri, the official in charge of controlling foodstuff at Iran's Bushehr University of Medical Science said, the Fars News Agency reported on Dec 14.
According to the report, Astaneh`s Hashemi, Fereydunkenar`s Tarom, Rasht`s Domsiyah, as well as Avila and Setayesh were among the contaminated Iranian rice varieties.
Domestic producers should acquire a production license as of next year, otherwise they will be dealt with, Ms. Sadri added.
Amounts of lead, cadmium, arsenic, and aflatoxin were higher than the standard levels, she said.
Iran produces 2.4 million tons of rice annually and imports one million ton, as well.
According to Iran's customs administration, the country imported 1.385 million tons of rice, worth $1.61 billion in the first eight months of the current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 21, a 111 percent rise year on year. India accounted for 70 percent of Iran's rice imports.
Director of the Iranian rice producers association, Jamil Alizadeh said that the Baba Noor Indian rice variety and Pakistani Zeytoun rice which is also listed amongst the contaminated rice varieties have not been imported into Iran, so the statement on the contamination has targeted domestic rice producers.
In August, the Tasnim News Agency quoted deputy head of the Iranian Rice Producers Association, Ali Akbarian as saying the rice imported from India and Pakistan into Iran was contaminated with arsenic.
A member of Iran's Parliament's Health Commission, Hassan Tamini said on June 2 that some of the imported rice was certainly contaminated with chemicals like arsenic.
Importing contaminated rice is a serious problem, the Khabaronline website quoted Tamini as saying.
The Iranian Parliament has warned the Health Ministry and agricultural ministries about the contaminated rice, but unfortunately nothing has been done and the contaminated rice is being presented at the markets, the lawmaker explained.
It is not the first time that the government imported contaminated rice from Pakistan and India, Tamini added.
Edited by C.N.