Highlighting the issue of continuous use of pesticides in agricultural products across the country, Bollywood anchor Aamir Khan once again spellbound the audience with the eyeopening facts in his show Satyamev Jayate. The use of pesticides in agricultural products could well be a grim reminder for all of us who continuously and tirelessly use these harmful products despite repeated warnings.
In the eighth episode on Sunday, Aamir spoke about the harmful effects of pesticides on consumers. The actor highlighted how excessive use of pesticides by farmers have led to the deterioration of nutrients from food products which eventually affect the health of people, the environment and other living beings.
Talking to Aamir, Dr Rashmi Sanghi, research scientist at IIT Kanpur shared the shocking facts exposed in a research on breast feeding. She found that there were hundered times more pesticides in the breast milk regarded as the best nutrition for the newborns.
The programme also threw light on the high number of heart wrenching diseases found among the natives of a village in Kerala. It was revealed that pesticides were sprayed from helicopters on cashew farms consistently for a period of 25 years.
Dr Mohan Kumar treating the patients in that village, said that soon after the spray was stopped in 2000, the cases of abnormal newborns reduced to almost zero.
On the other hand, Rahul Bhawar, a farmer from Nashik in Maharashtra revealed that how indispensable it is to use pesticides for more yield, bright and spotless.
A pesticide seller from Ferozepur revealed that the farmers recklessly use pesticides without measuring them properly. Another fact was revealed that the farmers involved in excessive pesticide practice organic farming for personal needs.
Talking on the issue, Kavita from Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) said that farmers cannot be blamed for the overdose of pesticides. Elaborating the root cause of the problem, she said:
1. The pesticides banned in other countries are extensively used in India
2. The pesticides not in use at present continue to exist in soil.
3. Use of pesticides has become a norm in farming
Kavita also said that a Joint Parliamentary Committee was set up to look into the issue. The committee said that overdose of pesticides was observed in only 2 percent of the agricultural area.
However, CARI in its survey in 2003 found all food samples to be contaminated with poisonous chemicals. She said that we consume about 40-500 percent more pesticide than the permissible limits. Also, only 1 percent pesticide kills pests while 99 percent is absorbed by the crop.
Invited to the programme, Dr Shrigopal Kabra said that pesticides damage skull bone in the developing fetus leading to deadly abnormalities in the newborn. He told that pesticides destroy folic acid required to develop the brain of a child.
According to him, a whopping of 5,000 cases of brain abnormalities were recorded in Rajasthan within a year. Also, high number of urinary tract disorders were recorded in Punjab due to the use of higher amount of pesticides.
Dr Vandana Shiva from Navdanya threw light on the flourishing agriculture in Punjab under the garb of Green Revolution. She emphaisized on practicing mixed farming to maintain the biological balance between the pests and the crops.
MD of Asia’s larget pesticide company, United Phosphorous Limited Rajju Shrof denied all the allegations of the harmful effects of pesticides. He said, farmers lose crops due to lack of pesticides.
The programme zeroed in on the need of a regulatory body which holds checks on food samples on a regular basis. Also, the government must provide subsidy for organic farming to make it cost effective.
Natural pest controllers
A trap can be used with medicine to attract female pests towards itself can be useful. A yellow paper can also serve the purpose.
Dr GV Ramanjaneyullu of Andhra Pradesh said, some pests feed on other pests but are themselves killed by the pesticides. They also turn resistant to pesticides with time.
The programme also showed an example of farmers who opted for organic farming and are also earning well.
Do’s and don’t’s
Wash the vegetables, fruits with salt water
Soak them in water before cooking.