The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has developed a cleansing agent named Veggie Wash to rid the vegetables and fruits of poisonous pesticide residue bringing huge relief to the Keralites reeling under the threat of toxic chemicals used in everyday food items.
The researchers maintain that the vegetables if kept immersed in the solution for a few minutes followed by washing in water could successfully remove the pesticide residue. Veggie Wash has been proved effective in the case of a select list of vegetables. The University has handed over the technology to manufacture the product to about 40 private companies inside and outside the state. About half of these companies are manufacturing and making the product available in the market. Studies have proved the presence of toxic pesticides in vegetables and fruits in large quantities. The drive against the use of such poisonous pesticides in food items gained momentum as people began to realize their harmful effects and this resulted in a surge in sales of Veggie Wash. Just as the public acceptance for the product increased, the Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), a manufacturer of pesticides entered the scene urging the State Food Security Commissioner to ban the product citing it as unrecognized. There are also reports of issuing a legal notice to the KAU besides threatening the authorities. The reasons why the CCFI is upset as well as the logic behind demanding a ban on the cleansing solution used to rid the veggies of harmful pesticides is unknown. Veggie Wash isn’t put up for sale in the market as a food item as well. Secondly how could the demand to stop removing the strains of residue from the vegetables and fruits before consuming them be justified? Those who exert pressure through phone calls and anonymous letters could possibly strengthen the ‘backdoor compulsion’ in many ways. The reasons could only be assumed. The strengthening of awareness in the state about the harmful effects of pesticides, the role played by the KAU and others in bringing about this realization and the cleaning solution itself functioning as a reminder against the toxic pesticides could be one of the reasons. Despite everything, the goals of the pesticide lobby are still unknown.
Their move is clearly against the public health and transparent health policies. The government should launch an extensive inquiry and study on this matter. Whether the goals intended by the pesticide lobby would affect the people’s food security should also be inquired. Add to this the reports of GM (Genetically Modified) crops that would be in the Indian markets soon. Today such crops with soybean and corn are used mostly for producing cattle feed. Corporate giants including Monsanto, for years, have been trying for a sanction to produce food crops via GM technology. The Genetic Engineering Analysis Committee (GEAC) that functions under the central government has been facing immense pressure in this regard. Even though the Committee pandered to the demands of the corporate bigwigs recently, it rectified its stance due to public protests and invention by the Court. The GEAC has now permitted a few to rampantly carry out trials of GM mustard. Activist and campaigner Aruna Rodrigues have filed a petition citing it as Contempt of Court. It’s at a time when the corporate companies exert pressure on the government and outside to establish their dominance over the production process of food items from planting seeds to irrigation and control of pesticides, that a few eye our vegetables and fruits market. The move against Veggie Wash seemingly incorporates different aspects like health care, food security, transparency in policies and control of markets. The matter demands the vigilance of the state’s Food and Agricultural Department.