Fixing of norms for pesticides in soft drinks delayed further
Undermining the legislative significance of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), the Pesticide Residues Sub-Committee of the Union ministry of health and family welfare has adopted a dilatory stand. It has proposed the setting up of another committee for year-long monitoring before standards are fixed for pesticide residues in soft drinks. This, when the JPC had directed the Union government in no uncertain terms to set stringent norms for carbonated beverages (see: 'A lie is nailed',, Down To Earth, February 29, 2004). The sub-panel seems to have played into the hands of soft-drink makers hit by the JPC report.
At its meeting on June 25, the sub-committee decided to undertake a nationwide monitoring of soft drinks to test for pesticide residues. Worse, it recommended the setting up of another expert group to work out the modalities of the monitoring exercise. The sub-committee's recommendations will now be forwarded to the Union health minister, via the Central Committee for Food Standards. But sources in the ministry say these would not be binding.
The development is not surprising. In its previous meeting, held in March 2004 (see: 'Slow off the mark', Down To Earth, March 15, 2004), the sub-committee had invited 21 stakeholders to present their views on the issue. But the list excluded the Centre for Science and Environment, which had exposed the presence of pesticides in soft drinks after conducting laboratory tests (see: 'Colanisation's dirty dozen', Down To Earth, August 15, 2003).
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