Sunday, July 5, 2020 | ePaper

Food Safety Authority should be more active to root out prime causes of making foods toxic

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BANGLADESH Food Safety Authority has found heavy metal presence in 63 samples of pesticide out of 67 tested recently. Some of the pesticides contained one milligram of heavy metal or even more per kilogram or per litre.  Some samples contained all of the three heavy metals: cadmium, chromium and lead. The government has limited capacity and regulation to control the use of heavy metal in pesticide. Scientists said that normally there is no way heavy metals can be present in pesticides. Over 300 companies have approval for pesticide business in the country, mostly importing active ingredients in bulk from China. The use of low-quality inert materials in increasing pesticide volume could be another source of heavy metals in pesticides. The import of pesticides, which completes in about 300 consignments a month, occurs without any test as long as the importing companies has the Department of Agricultural Extension's approval to market them. The imported pesticides are never tested before they are allowed inside the country.
The DAE has no way of testing inert material quality. Although the law requires the department to regularly check pesticide quality by visiting pesticide formulating plants, such visit rarely occur. The use of pesticides gained popularity in Bangladesh in the 1960s. After a decade of continued decline, the consumption of pesticides has been rising again since 2016, with the country setting it as a new strategy to increase vegetable and fruit productions. Heavy metals are often found in foods - from cow milk to vegetables. The dumping of untreated industrial wastes has been the biggest known source of heavy metal contamination. Besides, adulterated chemical inputs used in agriculture have also been causing the soil to rapidly lose its fertility after the 1990s.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority has recently taken some appreciable steps to check adulterated foods for bringing the restaurants under a disciplined structure. But without controlling the presence of heavy metal in pesticides, this initiative will go in vain.  

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