Alarming Study Reveals Shocking Truths About Indian Rice And Wheat – Are You At Risk?

In an alarming study led by scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), a stark reality has come to light: the high-yield varieties of rice and wheat, staples of the Indian diet, are not only losing their nutritional value but are also accumulating harmful toxins. The revelations, detailed in Down To Earth, have raised concerns about the impact on public health. The report on the study highlights a disconcerting finding: the rice and wheat consumed by Indians might be of low nutritional value.

Breeding Programs Altering Nutrient Profiles

For the past five decades, India has rapidly introduced high-yielding rice and wheat varieties to bolster food security. However, the ICAR-led study signals a distressing shift in the nutrient profiles of these modern-bred grains. Breeding programs aimed at increasing yields have inadvertently led to a drastic decline in essential micronutrients like zinc and iron, diminishing the dietary significance of these staples.
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Low Nutritional Value and Toxin Accumulation

Not only have the breeding programs affected nutrient profiles, but they have also led to an alarming increase in the concentration of arsenic in rice by a staggering 1,493 per cent. The staple food grains are not only less nutritious but are also posing potential health risks due to the accumulation of toxins.

How the Grains Are Losing Nutrients:

Amid continuous genetic modifications under modern breeding programs, the report notes that the plants have lost their natural evolutionary defence mechanisms against toxins. The unintended consequences of these breeding initiatives extend beyond nutrient loss, affecting the plants’ ability to fend off harmful elements, further exacerbating the potential health risks associated with consuming these staple foods.
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How the Future Is Looking:

The study warns that if current trends persist, by 2040, these grains will become so nutritionally impoverished that they could contribute to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the country. The rapid adoption of high-yield varieties, intended to address food security challenges, has jeopardized the nutritional content of the grains that form the backbone of the Indian diet.

Efforts to Improve Nutritional Profile

Recognizing the severity of the issue, significant efforts are underway in India to address the declining nutritional profile of food grains. Agricultural scientists are exploring landraces and wild species of cultivated varieties for solutions. A special project on bio-fortification, launched by the Union government, involves scientists at ICAR and other agriculture universities conducting germplasm exploration to identify donor varieties with higher nutritional content.

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