No cadmium in rice grown in Sri Lanka, says Minister
Posted on June 19th, 2013

Bodhi Dhanapala

The WHO sponsored study (which took over three years, and the collaboration of over 50 top notch Sri Lankan scientists and doctors) issued a report on toxins in our environment in the context of chronic kidney disease.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Page 15 of it says that 234 water samples were analyzed for Cadmium, Arsenic and other toxins. ALL samplesƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  had very safe levels (i.e., a few parts per billion). Fish and vegetables analysed were also OK.

However, they noted that lotus root was found to have a slightly higher level of these toxic metals as some plants and some fish can concentrate toxins.

The knee-jerk reaction of people is to blame fertilizers and pesticides.

It is true that people in Sri Lanka use excess fertilizer and pesticides. But if the fertilizers etc were responsible, then the water table should have been polluted. Up-country people would have got CKDU first as the tea estates use a lot of fertilizer. No body has found that tea leaves have As, Cd, etc.

Luckily, the torrential rains that we have in Lanka wash out the toxins into the rivers and send them to the sea. However, if people could reduce fertilizers and pesticides, that would produce a better, more healthy environment, although it involves more demanding and thoughtful methods of agriculture.

The problems of healthƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  arises mainly because of the foolish life-style of a lot of people, congested living and congested, polluted roads.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  People drink coca cola, pepsi and other drinks full of sugar, and start getting diabetes, with weakening of kidney. According to various writers (Prof Weeraratne, Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana, and others), people (especially males working in the hot sun of in the Rajarata) don’t consume enough water to flush out any toxins.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If people drank enough water every day, toxins would get flushed out naturally.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But instead of drinking water, they drink a few cokes, pepsi and such “prestige” drinks, followed by kassipppu in the night!

However, we do have a few people like Dr. Jayasumana of Rajarata University claiming that it must be metal toxins. Prof Nalin de Silva ( ex-math professor at Kelaniya) claims that a ladyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  who hears voices had heard from “divine sources” that the CKDU is because of Arsenic in the Rajarata soil. Normally, we regard such people who hear voices as schizophrenics (a type of mental sickness) who can be cured by suitable medication.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  A chemistry lecturer at Kelaniya, following Nalin de Silva’s claim,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  should have analyzed the rajarata soil. Instead she analyzed hair and nails of CKDU patients and showed that they had excess Arsenic. But this merely shows that such CKDU patients cannot flush out the toxins (bad kidney) and so they have concentrated the toxins in their bodies. The Kelaniya lecturers should have also looked into the life styles of these patients that made them sick in the first place.

Anyway, it is good to have the minister confirm that many chemical analyzes of the rice have been made and the rice is found to be safe.

11 Responses to “No cadmium in rice grown in Sri Lanka, says Minister”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Kidney Disease factor in Sri Lanka is a strange phenomenon indeed. See article below. It states that over 200,000 people have been currently identified with Chronic kidney disease. This is a large number for a small country like Lanka.
    Why is this happening ?

    * No cadmium in rice grown in Sri Lanka
 – Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 05:47 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    June 18, Colombo: Analysis of rice samples from various fields in Sri Lanka have shown that rice grown locally in Sri Lanka does not contain any abnormal levels of cadmium, the Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena assured today.
    The Minister said rice samples obtained from various parts of the island have been analyzed at home and abroad.
    A joint research project conducted by the Sri Lankan government and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the country’s main rice production regions is caused by the use of nephrotoxic agrochemicals containing arsenic and cadmium.
    Rice samples obtained from various parts of the island were tested at the Institute of Fundamental Studies and the Paddy Research Institute in Bathalegoda.
    According to the Minister, rice samples have been taken from areas where kidney disease has widespread in the recent past including Medawchchiya, Padavi-Sripura and Mahawa.
    Rice samples have also been taken from Bathalegoda, Sammanthurai, Labuduwa, Bombuwala, Galle, Kalutara and Ambalantota research fields where paddy has been grown for over thirty two years without using chemical fertilizer or agro chemicals.
    In recent years a significant increase in the number of Chronic Kidney Disease patients has been observed in some parts of the country, especially in North Central, North Western, Uva and Eastern Provinces.
    According to the WHO study, over 200,000 people have currently been identified to be suffering from chronic kidney disease.

  2. Senevirath Says:

    No wonder most of these western educated people try to save fertilizer companies and blame poor villagers.

    upcountry water is not salty or brackish like in rajarata. to mix with arsenic etc

    most Americans drink coke and Pepsi from morning to night AND NOT WATER
    rajarata poor people drinking prestige drinks like coke!!!!!!!??




  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    There are many other heavy metals (which are all poisonous when over the limits) which can pollute the water table, and which can cause many diseases including Chronic Kidney Disease.

    The Upcountry area farmers and plantation owners must all be very careful with use of fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers as the Rivers, including the Mahaweli, will absorb the run offs from the tea estates, vegetable farms, etc.

    Recently it has been found that the method called Fracking used to release natural gas trapped deep underground is hazardous and will seriously pollute the water tables of those areas. This is due to the chemicals used to release gases trapped between layers of rock/sand deep underground.

    A Science Committee to advice the Parliament a must. Many a tragedy can be avoided if forewarned.

  4. aloy Says:

    I reproduce here what I commented on another thread on the CKD-U:
    aloy Says:
    June 19th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
    Quoted Cerberus below is indeed a serious matter which need investigation with high priority.
    ” There was an article some time back where someone had found that they were adding Arsenic and Cadmium to imported weedicides in Sri Lanka.

    In any case this is a serious matter which should be investigated with high priority by the GOSL.”
    There is a paper published in the latest edition of “The Ceylon Medical Journal” on this topic, delivered to my house for my son-in-law just yesterday. Since he is working overseas I decided to open the cover and read it. It was written by four persons, namely:J.M.K.B.Jayasekara, D.M.Dissanayake, S.B. Adhikari and P.Bandara. The title is “Geographical distribution of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin in North Central Region of Sri Lanka”
    I will take the trouble of typing out the abstract here as I find the finding of the foursome to be very important:
    Objectives: In early nineties investigators noticed an alarming high incidence of an apparently new form of chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKD-U) in some parts of Sri Lanka.The aim of the study was to investigate the geographical distribution of using GIS and GPS mapping.
    Methods: community based information was collected from 11630 patients for GIS mapping using ARC 9.2 software. Based on GIS mapping two locations were selected for GPS mapping to locate 863 CKD-U patients with reference to reservoirs, irrigation canals and the topology of the areas.
    Results: GIS mapping indicated five high prevalent areas of CKD-U. Communities who consumed water from natural springs showed a low prevalence of the disease. GPS mapping showed that most of the affected villages were located below the reservoirs and canals with stagnant irrigated water.
    Conclusion: Epidemiological data on geographical distribution infers that while older foci of CKD-U are persisting there is an emergence of new foci with time. The location of the affected villages below the levels of reservoir/canals may indicate the possibility of draining of irrigated water to the shallow wells of the households, which is the source of the drinking water.”
    I think the government can make use of these findings and start supplying clean drinking water using bowsers to the areas below the levels of reservoirs and canals as a matter of urgency. Perhaps this also suggest that the problem is due to use of agro inputs from unreliable sources. From where are we getting these inputs?. though I have asked this question on numerous occasions no answer seems to be forth coming.
    I have seen on TV, HE the president and Minister in Charge of water supplies distributing bowsers, yesterday for supplying water to the affected areas. This is a commendable step.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thanks, Aloy. That was very useful information. Now we all know that waters that are not running such as reservoirs, ponds, etc. accumulate the toxins. Time to clean them up and also closely supervise the use of fertilizers, pesticides & weedicides.

    Good to know that clean water is being delivered to those who need it most. Our thanks also to the President for acting on this issue.

  6. stanleyw Says:

    A few points on CKDu.

    1. Fertilizers (F) and pesticides (P) are used all over Sri Lanka and CKDu is reported only in some DS divisions in NCP, NWP and Uva. Hence it is not possible to attribute F and P to CKDU .
    2. It is not proved that these toxic elements found in water the affected people drink, come from F and P. This can be proved only by using labeled F and P.
    3. The nephrotoxic elements such as arsenic and cadmium could come from rocks. The rocks undergo weathering and release all types of elements such as As, Cd etc. some of which may be toxic.
    4. As and Cd present in F and P when gets mixed with soil undergo many physical and chemical changes and hence the As, Cd in F and P may not be available.
    5. If the use of some fertilizers and pestides is banned, without knowing the exact cause of CKDu, and if the cause is not F and P CKDu will continue to affect the people.
    6. Until the exact cause of CKDu is found, the best that could be done is to provide good quality water to those people in the affected areas. Rain water is a good alternative.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    If rock component elements were ”at fault” here, then such an epidemic of CKD ought to have happened earlier too, isn’t it ? There are no records to that effect. Also, why at this point in time ?
    As NCP, NWP & Uva are the affected areas, it is noted that these provinces are all adjoining the Central Province which is not affected. So, is it due to run offs of Fertilisers etc used Upcountry and from the hill slopes into the water collection (NOT running water as in rivers) areas of NCP, NWP & Uva ?

  8. stanleyw Says:

    Rocks are not static. They undergo physical and chemical changes throughout. There was gold found in some areas close to Kelaniya. That came from rocks. No one put gold into the river.

    It is possible that run-off water from up country carry fertilizers. That is why algal blooms have been reported in some parts of dry zone. It is also possible that pesticdes applied to crops in the up-country end in the dry zone.

    Hence, until the exact cause of CKDu is found, the best that could be done to control CKDu is to provide good quality water to those people in the affected areas.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    It is possible that there may be a combination of things causing CKD in such large numbers.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    On reading further about heavy metal poisoning, I came across this fact :”Heavy metals may enter the body in food, water, or air, or by ABSORPTION through the SKIN. Once in the body, they compete with and displace essential minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, and calcium, and interfere with organ system function. People may come in contact with heavy metals in industrial work, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and agriculture.”

    Since agricultural workers are the most susceptible to CKDu in Sri Lanka, I am wondering whether the “non-flowing waters” (and soil) in the paddy fields have heavy metals such as As & Cd which are ABSORBED THROUGH THE BARE FEET AND LEGS & HANDS OF THE FARMERS. In which case, plastic knee high foot wear, gloves, and drinking lots of clean water will help protect the skin and thus avoid CKDu ?

    This is merely some guess work, and I leave it to the scientists working on the problem to find out if the above info may be of help.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Any type of footwear for the boggy paddy fields would be difficult to produce. Still, if something can be done, it’s a good thing.

    For more information on the CKDU in Sri Lanka, see website :

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