Food poison

Published: Wednesday 31 May 1995

BENZENE hexachloride and malathion showed up in vegetables from the Azadpur wholesale vegetable market, prompting the ministry of agriculture to order the phasing out of chemical pesticides in vegetable farming. The levels were found to be below the human tolerance level, but the question that haunted the ministry was: why take a chance? Their long-term accumulation can impair kidney functions and blood circulation. Deadly residues had earlier been found in rice grains, vegetables and fruits sold in most markets in Delhi.

The ministry had launched the Integrated Pest Management (IMP) programme last year for cotton and rice crops, which has now been extended to vegetables and fruits. The programme uses vario -us methods of "total crop management techniques" in which the emphasis is on the use of genuine seeds and disease-free planting materials, better varieties and largescale use of natural predators of pests.

In fact, pests had become resistant to the drugs, and the pesticides were decimating friendly insects and the predators feeding on the pests.

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