Pesticide use: Health hazards

The import of banned chemical pesticides must be strictly prohibited from open

borders of China and India. Adverse effects concerning food borne hazards ought to be scientifically evaluated and the issues should be addressed at the public level

The rapid population growth has resulted in intensifying demand for food almost all over the world. Additionally, for fulfilling the increasing demand for food, the agricultural productivity needs to be increased with respect to food safety and food security.

The uses of pesticides have been of huge public benefit during the second half of the 21st century by significantly boosting agricultural yields and assisting in the control of many diseases.

USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends that half the portion of a diet in the plate needs to be fruits and vegetables to facilitate optimal nutrition, and dietary variety also is associated with lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Non-organic farmers spray synthetic pesticides on crops to kill weeds and insects and the toxicity doesn’t stop there. As they grow, plants absorb pesticides, and residues linger on fruit and vegetable skins all the way to the kitchen, even after being washed.

Pesticides are chemical or biological agents that are used to protect crops from insects, weeds, and infections. Frequently, these chemicals are used on crops that are fed to animals, although residue from pesticides is generally not found in meat or dairy products.

People who live near agricultural fields may be exposed by the drift from aerial spraying. Workers in agriculture, pesticide applicators, and occupational settings touch and breathe in pesticides, putting them at risk for acute and chronic poisoning.

The industrial agriculture system consumes fossil fuel, water, and top soil at unsustainable rates. It contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution, soil depletion, diminishing biodiversity, and fish die-offs.

Meat production contributes disproportionately to these problems, in part because feeding grain to livestock to produce meat--instead of feeding it directly to humans involving a large energy loss, making animal agriculture more resource intensive than other forms of food production.

The proliferation of factory-style animal agriculture creates environmental and public health concerns, including pollution from the high concentration of animal wastes and the extensive use of antibiotics, which may compromise their effectiveness in medical use.

At the consumption end, animal fat is implicated in many chronic degenerative diseases that upset industrial and newly industrializing societies, particularly cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

The entire products should be thoroughly washed and even those labeled organic. It is effective to wash the food products under running water rather than soaking or dunking. Prominently, these vegetables and fruits should be dried with a clean cloth towel or paper towel when possible. Maximum consumption of organic diet could certainly be a worthy way to truncate pesticide’s intake.

Ethical use of pesticides must be provisioned under standard specification recommended by the concerned government bodies with the adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops, a product of food biotechnology so as to have regard for environmental sustainability. The emergence of biotechnology has vital contributed to the reduction, precise use of pesticides, and introducing more environmentally friendly herbicides.

Significant challenges concerned the food adulteration and contamination emanating from primary production, processing, distribution, marketing and preparation have been realized in Nepal.

Mostly, pesticides are required at higher doses to achieve the same level of control, though often these are not as effective.

Regular misuse of pesticides causes pests to adopt and become resistant to the pesticides. Farmers do not follow the pre-harvest waiting period. Others treat food grain with pesticides against storage pests.The concept of chronic poisoning and health risk is not fully understood by farmers, distributors and importers.

Farmers should also be well informed of the fact that using pesticide in recommended amount does not result in harmful impacts. The activity of pesticide residue monitoring should be made effective and regular by the government. Furthermore, if the government laboratory doesn’t have sufficient technology and manpower, it should work in close collaboration with private or semi-governmental laboratories that are rich in human and technological resources together with facilitating pesticide residue monitoring.

Pesticides have been the root of potential health hazards that have drawn attention of food quality control agencies, certification bodies, international community and trading partners. Due to the lack of regular monitoring scheme of MRL (Maximum Residue Limit) on pesticides, it has affected the export of tea, honey and other food commodities in the recent years.

Likewise, the absence of the monitoring scheme has severe impediments on the issues regarding the certification of organic food.

The import of banned chemical pesticides must be strictly prohibited from open borders of China and India. Adverse effects concerning food borne hazards ought to be scientifically evaluated and the issues should be addressed at the public level.

The writer is a food technologist