Star Wars themed rice paddy art

Americans have corn mazes, and in Japan, the town of Inakadate has rice paddy art. By planting several strains of rice in the same field, they create these colorful images, like this Star Wars scene.

Bonus: the latest Godzilla art.

STAR WARS Inakadate Tambo Art (YouTube / Satoshi.K via) Read the rest

Plastic rice nightmare in Nigeria

Fake plastic rice—totally convincing by sight, but potentially lethal to eat—has gone from urban legend to horrifying controversy in Nigeria, where a shipment of the stuff was intercepted and is undergoing tests. Is it plastic, or just really weird rice? Somehow everything's gotten murky and confusing.

Nigeria's food safety agency has denied claims by the health minister that it has cleared the reported "plastic" rice.

A senior official at the National Agency For Food and Drugs (Nafdac) said the minister's Twitter statement "is not their position".

Health Minister Isaac Adewole had tweeted that tests by the agency found "no evidence" of plastic material ... [but Latgos Customs Chief] Mr Mamudu had said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and "only God knows what would have happened" if people ate it.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Lagos, who felt the rice, said it looked real but had a faint chemical odour.

Two and a half tons of "Best Tomato Rice" were seized and it's not clear if any has reached markets and stores. Tests should be complete in a few days.

"Whoever made it did a remarkable job," says the BBC's Martin Patience. "It feels like rice, the texture is amazing, but when you smell it, there's something not quite right."

I wonder if this is a symptom of the way commodities trading works. No-one doing the buying and selling ever gets near the goods, making the supply chain vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attackers adjacent to the source.

Commodities, Tealeaf!

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Cooking rice in a coffee pot flushes out arsenic

Rice contains more of the carcinogen arsenic than other grains, but researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, UK found that cooking rice in a simple coffee pot removed about half the arsenic. Read the rest

Greenpeace: Heavy metals pollution in China makes 'Cadmium rice' a growing problem

Image: Greenpeace

Greenpeace this week released a report on soil and rice crops sampled in villages close to a concentration of heavy metals smelters in China's Hunan Province, "an area that ranks first in rice output and among the top five in nonferrous metals production." The results showed that both rice and soil near the industrial complex are contaminated by heavy metals, including lead. "12 out of all 13 rice samples contained excessive levels of cadmium." Read the "Cadmium rice" report at Greenpeace East Asia. Here's a related piece at the New York Times. Read the rest

Activists destroy GMO test plot

Golden Rice is a strain of rice genetically engineered to produce extra beta-carotene, part of a humanitarian effort to get more Vitamin A into the diets of people who subsist primarily on rice. The genes that produce the beta-carotene come from corn and a soil bacterium. On the legal end, the rice was developed using free technology licenses that allow the International Rice Research Institute to hand the rice out for free to subsistence farmers, and allow those farmers to save seeds and replant in subsequent years. Last week, anti-GMO activists destroyed a test plot of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Read the rest