Rice is an essential staple food and feeds over half of the world's population. Consumption of rice has increased from limited intake in Western countries some 50years ago to major dietary intake now. Rice consumption represents a major route for inorganic arsenic (As) exposure in many countries, especially for people with a large proportion of rice in their daily diet as much as 60%. Rice plants are more efficient in assimilating As into its grains than other cereal crops and the accumulation may also adversely affect the quality of rice and their nutrition. Rice is generally grown as a lowland crop in flooded soils under reducing conditions. Under these conditions the bioavailability of As is greatly enhanced leading to excessive As bioaccumulation compared to that under oxidizing upland conditions. Inorganic As species are carcinogenic to humans and even at low levels in the diet pose a considerable risk to humans. There is a substantial genetic variation among the rice genotypes in grain-As accumulation as well as speciation. Identifying the extent of genetic variation in grain-As concentration and speciation of As compounds are crucial to determining the rice varieties which accumulate low inorganic As. Varietal selection, irrigation water management, use of fertilizer and soil amendments, cooking practices etc. play a vital role in reducing As exposure from rice grains. In the meantime assessing the bioavailability of As from rice is crucial to understanding human health exposure and reducing the risk.
Keywords: Arsenic; Bioaccumulation of As; Human health risk; Management practices for mitigation; Rice genotypes.
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