From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Muktoshri
Mains level : Arsenic poisoning through food, Rice Fortification
Researchers have developed and commercialized a rice variety that is resistant to arsenic.
- The new rice variety, Muktoshri — also called IET 21845 —, was developed jointly by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah coming under West Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.
- A gazette notification for the commercial use of Muktoshri was made by West Bengal last year.
- During our multilocational trials, it was found that this variety uptakes very less amount of arsenic from soil and water in comparison to other varieties of rice.
- The rice is long and thin, and aromatic. Across the State, thousands of farmers have started cultivation, even in areas where arsenic in groundwater is not an issue, because of the aroma and the yield.
- West Bengal is among the States with the highest concentration of arsenic in groundwater, with as many as 83 blocks across seven districts having higher arsenic levels than permissible limits.
- Several studies have shown that arsenic from groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.
- According to the WHO, long-term exposure to arsenic, mainly through drinking water and food, can lead to poisoning. Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.