27 August, 2007

Tainted Vegetables: Are the results dependable?

From the NST:

DIFFERENT agencies seem to have different results for the pesticide contamination levels.
"When I asked the Department of Agriculture about pesticide contamination, they said it’s only 10 per cent," said Gurmit Singh, the executive director of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia.

"When I called the Ministry of Health, they told me it’s 30 per cent. If the contamination for farm level is low, how come the retail level is high?

"This raises the question of whether the sampling methods are comparable."

Gurmit said both agencies should adopt a common sampling method and publish the results in annual reports or on their websites.
"We can’t depend on research seminars and scare stories to emerge to get information.

"The agencies have more duty to the public than retailers. They are supposed to make sure the public is not poisoned."

Gurmit, however, said not all nice-looking vegetables contained pesticide residues.

"Organic vegetables are fresh and don’t have holes. And vegetables with holes don’t mean they are not chemically treated.

"Maybe the pesticide level is not high enough or the pests have become resistant.

"And when they are resistant, farmers will use a cocktail of pesticides. This will pose more risks to public health."

The Ministry of Health could not be reached for comments.

From the report above there is a big question. Is the sampling methods same across different agencies? If it is why are the results from farms and in the market differs by a big margin? Public awareness needs a 2 way approach. First is that the public needs to be aware of the methods to get the information and second the government agencies must make public on their findings efficiently. However, this seem to be not the case.

Being still an agricultural driven country in many ways this should serve as a major impact to international confidence when it comes to export produce. At least this is the way I see it. Our fruits are exported to all over the world and smack on the front page in the news today is a report on tainted produce found in the local markets.

This is very alarming. First and foremost it is obvious that someone has not being doing their job well enough. Because if constant vigil is held for monitoring the quality of produce is kept, tainted vegetables won't be reported at all today. Second, I bet there are some irresponsible farmers who "taint" their produce just before shipping to the markets to ensure that it stays "fresh" during the journey and throughout trading day.

So as usual, the question is how now brown cow? Is the public going to munch on strains of cancerous pesticides while a probe is being done? Will the government ensure that what is reported today will be solved tomorrow? It is vegetables, we eat it every day. So for the public joe I guess we have to live on imported oats and cereals as well as multivitamins supplements till the problem is solved.

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