Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Pesticides mean different things to different players in the food chain. Application of pesticides is considered vital to increase the yield from the agricultural land though there are restrictions regarding the type that can be used and the quantity that is safe. Similarly storage and distribution industry needs separate pesticides for grain preservation and prevent damage from different types of stored pests. As far as the consumer is concerned he abhors pesticides in his food because of the grave risk, short as well as long term, to his health by consuming foods containing these potentially harmful chemicals. Birth of organic food industry owes its origin to this consumer apprehension which the main stream  industry can only ignore at its peril. An interesting report from Nepal reveals how cunning and ruthless farmers can be when it comes to their own safety. Here is a take on this new revelation.

"With the increase in population, there is increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to produce more food in less time to feed the growing number of hungry stomachs. To meet the escalating demand, most farmers are using harmful pesticides to the extent that they themselves cannot comprehend. Previous studies on pesticide residues have shown that a total of more than thousand different food commodities during 1995-2004 were found to have various pesticide residues. This is the reason why Nepal frequently faces quality and safety related problems in the export of honey, tea etc. to European countries due to the beyond-the- normal pesticide residue level. Lack of knowledge is one thing but many farmers and traders, who know their practices are unsafe, or even illegal, still continue to follow them and this is guided by a principle called 'the love of money'. According to the research carried out by Food Organization and Agriculture(FAO), many farmers admitted that they produce separate vegetables without the use of excessive chemicals only for their own consumption and they do not even feed pesticide used plant residues to their animals because they fear for their lives but shamelessly not for their fellow human beings". 

The above bitter truth prevails in India also as reflected by a report which says only 30% of the milk produced come from animals while the rest is created by the enterprising dairy "entrepreneurs" from pond water, detergent and other inedible materials which are obtained practically free! One wonders whether these criminal "innovators" will feed their children with this milk? Undoubtedly no. The prevailing belief that farmers are innocent people with no education needs revision if the above wide spread practices as reported are true and probably they have the last laugh when it comes to matching their wits with that of the consumer!  

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