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South Korea suspends bidding for US rice imports

  

AP

In this file photo taken Sept. 22, 2011, rice grows in a field near Alicia, Ark. Consumer groups are pressuring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set federal guidance on allowable levels of arsenic in rice, prompting the agency to consider possible new standards.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEOUL: South Korea has suspended bidding for U.S. rice imports after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports magazine found elevated levels of arsenic in rice.

Seoul's Agriculture Ministry says it also suspended the sale of U.S. rice as of Friday. It says the sale and bidding may resume after more studies are conducted.

The FDA found no evidence in its preliminary study that the rice is unsafe. It will complete a larger study by the end of the year.

South Korea imports all its U.S. rice from California. Consumer Reports found higher arsenic levels in rice from southern U.S. states than from California.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil, in organic and inorganic forms. Inorganic arsenic may pose a cancer risk if consumed excessively.

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