Pesticide safety hit by lack of standards
FSSAI yet to prescribe maximum residue level for various vegetables
The failure to prescribe safety standards for the use of pesticides on various crops has made a mockery of the government-sponsored scheme for periodic monitoring of vegetables, fruits and food products for pesticide residue.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has not prescribed the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) of various pesticides for chilli, curry leaf, amaranthus, coriander leaf, mint and capsicum, items for which Kerala largely relies on neighbouring States.
The MRL is fixed on the basis of a rigorous evaluation test of each pesticide approved by the Central Insecticide Board.
It is an indicator of the correct use of pesticides and ensures compliance with legal requirements for low residues on unprocessed food.
According to Thomas Biju Mathew, Head, Pesticide Residue Laboratory, the delay in fixing MRL had led to the continued use of unapproved pesticides by farmers for over two decades, impacting on public health.
To understand the health hazards caused by pesticide residue, it is absolutely essential to have MRL values for various pesticide-commodity combinations.
The European Union has a comprehensive database of pesticide-commodity combinations covering even the dietary habits of immigrant communities.
It has MRL standards for pesticides used on amaranthus, largely used by Malayali immigrants.