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Iran: Tainted rice imports issue simmers, MPs call for new probe

TEHRAN, Oct. 5 (Mehr News Agency) -- MP Ali Adyani and a number of other MPs from Mazandaran Province have prepared a plan to launch a probe into the Commerce Ministry.

The plan was delivered to the Majlis Presiding Board last week and has been referred to the Majlis Economic Committee, Adyani told the Mehr News Agency on Sunday.

Determination of the quality of the imported rice based on Iran's national standards is one of the purposes of the plan, he added.

The dispute over the quality of imported rice arose after reports that Iran had detected high levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead in the rice imported from India over the past few weeks.

A number of officials from Iran's standards institute announced that the rice is really contaminated and that the rice contains unacceptable levels of arsenic, cadmium, and mercury.

An official from the institute went so far as to say that the imported rice is carcinogenic due to the high level of arsenic.

However, Iranian Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi has totally rejected the claims and has stated that no case of contamination of imported rice has been reported.

The standards institute adopted a new position on September 27 and announced that the rice is of acceptable quality and there is no need for concern.

Amid the disputes over the quality of the imported rice, the Majlis Agriculture Committee set a one-week deadline for the relevant executive branch bodies to closely examine the issue.

"A one-week deadline has been set for the health and agricultural jihad ministries, in cooperation with the Institute of Standard (and Industrial Research of Iran), to determine the level of contamination of the imported rice through a variety of tests and to report back to the Majlis," MP Mohammad Mahdi Afshari told MNA on September 28.

However, no report has been released by the relevant bodies.

Over the past 17 months, Iran has imported 2.5 million tons of rice with a value of over $1.3 billion from 20 countries.

A Customs Office official told MNA on Saturday that over 800,000 tons of rice has been imported during the last six months.

... Payvand News - 10/05/09 ... --

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