Is pesticide killing the Indian Plate?


The recent case of food poisoning in Bihar, which has taken lives of nearly 20 people, tells the unfortunate tale of how lax we are when it comes to handling and preparing food products in India. (Initial reports have shown that deaths were caused due to acute exposure to pesticides.)

Apart from accidental consumption of unsafe amount of pesticide in food, it is critical to note that a high number of deaths are also caused among farmers and laborers who handle pesticides in the farms and warehouses. What is more appalling is that globally developing countries are the one which face the brunt of majority of such deaths. One report from University of Minnesota blames inadequate occupational safety standards, protective clothing, and washing facilities; insufficient enforcement; poor labeling of pesticides; illiteracy; and insufficient knowledge of pesticide hazards for such deaths.

        Spraying of Pesticides (Image Courtesy: Wikimedia)

Theoretically, pesticides are assumed to be have almost negligible effect on human health. However, that is based on a very critical assumption that the handlers are educated enough to practice safe usage. Many environmentalists believe that, with easy access to chemicals, low knowledge & information and the pressure of saving the farm from pesticides, Indian farmers have already gone down spirally and are not stuck in a viscous circle where pesticides have become an essential part of their life. No doubt, India is estimated to consume 7% of world’s pesticide.

In such a scenario, where our everyday living is being challenged by the advent of harmful chemicals in our plates, isn’t it the time for us to adopt organic farming in a large scale in India, making it a cost effective proposition for both the producers and the consumers?

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