Food safety and toxins | Centre for Science and Environment


Work Overview

The programme relies on a two pronged strategy of doing laboratory research to generate empirical data on issues of toxins and food safety and secondly, doing policy research and advocacy to bring about changes in the regulatory and enforcement framework.

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International Workshop on National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance for developing countries

The Food Safety and Toxins Team at the Centre for Science and Environment organized a two-day International workshop to address animal and environmental aspects of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the National Action Plans of developing countries. The workshop was held in New Delhi, during Nov 10−11, 2016. 

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Latest study by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab finds antibiotic residues in chicken

Growing antibiotic-resistance in humans also because of large-scale indiscriminate use of antibiotics in poultry industry, claims CSE study

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Junk Food Targeted at children

There is nothing called junk food” – says the food industry. This was the contention that the industry had put forth to a committee set up in 2013 under directions from the Delhi High Court. The committee had been tasked to frame guidelines for junk food in the country. I was a member of the committee, along with extremely dedicated, committed and knowledgeable medical professionals.

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Global civil society issues 'Declaration on Antibiotic Resistance', urges action to avert post-antibiotic era

The Antibiotic Resistance Coalition releases declaration aimed to contain the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Centre for Science and Environment, as part of the coalition, urges leadership and action by the ongoing World Health Assembly

Bhopal: Way Ahead

DURING1969-84, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) mainly produced three pesticides namely sevin(carbaryl), temik (aldicarb) and sevidol, which is a formulation of carbaryl and gammahexachlorocyclohexane (γ-HCH).

‘Junk the junk food’: Rahul Bose, Sandeep Dikshit run to support CSE’s campaign to shun junk food in schools

Over 400 school and college students participate in Quarterathon for a cause of public health

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The Kasaragod Declaration

A National Workshop to develop a Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Rebuilding Program for the Survivors and Rejuvenation of the Eco-systems in the Endosulfan affected areas of Kasaragod District, was held on July 21-22. The two day program, CONCORD 2012, was held under the chairmanship of P Karunakaran, MP and it was inaugurated by the Kerala Chief Minister Ommen Chandy. Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment was the key note speaker on the occasion.

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Centre in favour of manufacture of endosulfan

The agriculture ministry, on behalf of the centre, has recommended that endosulfan be allowed in the country instead of disposing it.According to the affidavit filed by the centre, in the Supreme Court, the cost of disposing endosulfan will cost the exchequer Rs 210 crore.

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Bhopal to Germany

Twenty-eight years after the lethal gas leak at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, the 350 tonnes of toxic waste lying at the defunct factory is likely to be airlifted to Germany for safe disposal. The disposal process, however, will start only after India’s Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules of 2008, which forbid export and import of hazardous waste, are amended.
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Antibiotic free honey

The recommendations put forth by the FSSAI scientific panel that says antibiotics should not be used at any stage of honey production, has been unanimously approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It has now been sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for notification.
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Naturally occurring trans fat is healthy- Study

NOT all trans fats are bad for health. At least not the natural ones found in ghee, butter and cheese. Scientists have found that naturally occurring trans fats in milk and meat products obtained from ruminant animals like cows and buffaloes do not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases the way industrial trans fats do.
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Milk Check

The Supreme Court on May 9 sought a response from the apex food body, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and the states regarding milk adulteration and production of synthetic milk.The three-judge bench sought their response on the public interest petition filed by Swami Achyutanand Tirth on behalf of the Swami Bhumanand Dharmarth Chikitsalya &
Research Institute in Haridwar.

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Endosulfan: A year of the ban

The industry continues its dirty tricks

The Endosulfan ban will complete a year on May 13.

In 2011, the Supreme Court had passed an interim order banning the sale, production, use and export of endosulfan.

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FSSAI asked to make new guidelines for junk food in schools

The Delhi High Court has given the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) a six month period to come out with guidelines on implementing rules to ban junk food in and around schools. The two  judge bench gave the order on January 11. The next hearing is scheduled for July 25.

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Adulterated milk is what Indians are drinking

70 per cent milk samples collected across the country by food safety authority did not conform to standards

The results of a first-of-its-kind survey on milk by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) reveal something startling—most Indians are consuming detergents and other contaminants through milk. 

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CSE's recommendations for the Pesticides Management Bill, 2008.

India regulates its pesticides under the Insecticides Act 1968. This Act, however, hasn’t been able to stop the pesticides from contaminating the environment and having a deleterious impact on health. THe Insecticides Act 1968 will be replaced by the Pesticides Management Bill 2008. A lot of hopes were pinned on the Pesticides Management Bill 2008, but the bill hasn't been able to make human and environmental health a priority. CSE has extensively worked on impacts of pesticides and their environmental and human health impacts and it is in this light that CSE makes a few recommendations.

Sri Lanka limits lead in paints

Sri Lanka has becomes the latest country to introduce lead in paints standards. The Consumer Affairs Authority published a Gazette order on September 30, 2011 regulating permissible maximum lead content on paints and accessories. It shall come into force from January 1, 2013.

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Honey trade gets stickier


After an European Union ban on Indian honey and United States raising concerns on India's role in circumvention of Chinese honey, Indian honey industry could use some good news. But this good news, of impeccable traceability, comes with an indictment that all is not well with Indian regulatory bodies.

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Capping the Caffeine

Energy Drinks have been in India since 2002. Currently there are several brands such as Red Bull, Coca Cola's Burn, Goldwin Healthcare's Cloud 9 and SJ's XXX in in India. Energy drinks are in controversy because of its high caffeine content. Most of these brands have upto 320 ppm of caffeine in them. These drinks are marketed as an instant source of energy.  

Lab to be chosen for Bhopal waste

The Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Centre to identify a laboratory in the country to analyse the waste from Union Carbide and prepare an environmental impact assessment on the impact of burning it in Nagpur.

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Child's Play

Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) released its draft regulations on standards on phthalates in toys on April 21, 2011.  The draft standards have been released following a Bombay High Court Order on March 24, 2011.

The court's direction was in response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL)filed by the Consumer Welfare Association in 2007 demanding stringent regulations for phthalates in toys.

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Contest for pesticide

A bill to be tabled in Parliament is set to re-ignite an old tussle between the Centre and states. The Pesticides Management Bill of 2008, which will be heard in the Monsoon Session, aims to replace grand old Insecticides Act of 1968. It will regulate a wider range of chemicals, including weedicides and fungicides along with insecticides.

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What's in Your Honey

Since the Government of India directed the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), in December last year, to revise its standards for honey only two meetings have been held.

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Countdown to the Supreme Court Hearing

The eight weeks deadline for the Supreme Court appointed joint committee on endosulfan ended on July 13. The hearing of the case is scheduled for July 15.

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Interim Report Deadline Extended

The Supreme Court appointed joint committee was unable to submit its interim report on endosulfan on July 15 and asked for another eight weeks to prepare the report. On the other hand, the pesticide manufacturers and formulators association of India, one of the respondents in the case, pleaded with the court to give an immediate relief to them to allow exporting the pesticides, the stocks for which were already present with the manufacturers.

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India's Consent takes Endosulfan on the PIC List

Day 5: With no consensus reached on white asbestos, its back to square one. The only progress was India changing its stand and therefore one less country to convert in the next COP session. Canada continues to remain the villain. India on the other hand earned some more brownie points by agreeing to list endosulfan in the PIC list or the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.

FSSAI yet to set Trans Fat rules



The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released their proposed norms on trans fats in vanaspati/Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (PHVO) on May 7, 2010. The stakeholders were given one month to send in their comments after which the draft regulations would have been sent to the government for notification.

Joint Committee's First Meeting Today

The Supreme Court appointed joint committee, headed by ICMR director general VM Katoch and Agriculture Commissioner Gurbachan Singh met for the first time on June 23. This was after five weeks of its appointment. The heads of the committee revealed that they will meet again on July 6-7. 

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India Agrees to Asbestos Listing

Day 3: In a surprising turn of events, the Indian delegation agreed to the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention which is the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The turnaround came at a contact group meeting which was set up for discussion on chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos as they member groups of the convention could not agree upon a consensus. However, when India announced its stand it was applauded and it received a standing ovation at the plenary.

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Status Quo on Asbestos

Day 4: Despite India changing its stand, the COP hasn't been able to reach a consensus on the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list. Confusion over the meaning of 'listing' as opposed to 'banning' was cited as the reason for not being able to reach a consensus.

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Asbestos and Endosulfan at Rotterdam Convention

As India attends the COP5, it is worth looking at how it has fared in the past. In COP 4, held in 2008, India had played spoilsport by preventing chrysotile asbestos and endosulfan from being included in Annex III of UN's Rotterdam Convention that brands them hazardous. Including the two in the Annex III would have made mandatory for countries to take a Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, before exporting them to other countries.
 

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Companies Failed to Surrender Registration Certificates

Soon after the Supreme Court ordered the interim ban on endosulfan on May 13, the agriculture ministry issued letters to the different departments, the following day, for the compliance of the nation wide ban.

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Karnataka and MP take a step back

It was a shocker. Out of the 21 states that attended a meeting at the agriculture commissioner's office, 20 opposed the ban on endosulfan and this included Karnataka, that has already banned endosulfan in the state and Madhya Pradesh, whose agriculture minister had sent a letter to the centre supporting Kerala's ex chief minister VS Achuthanandan's call for a nationwide ban on endosulfan.

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Licence to Kill, Not Anymore

HIL's (Hindustan Insecticide Limited) licence to produce endosulfan was cancelled by the Kerala government on May 27. The Gujarat agriculture department too has seized the permit of nearly 80 endosulfan manufacturing and formulating units in the state.

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A week after the ban

Its been a week since the Supreme Court issued the order for the interim ban on endosulfan. There is no official confirmation on the joint committee yet, when they have to present the interim report within 8 weeks, from May 13, to the Supreme Court. It is after the interim report is submitted will the apex court take a final call on whether the pesticide should be allowed or banned.

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SC bans Endosulfan, but where are the committees?

The Supreme Court, on May 13, passed an ad-interim order to ban the manufacture, sale and use of Endosulfan with immediate effect across the country. It also issued an order for a joint committee of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Agriculture Commissioner for a study on the health impacts of endosulfan within 8 weeks.

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SC bans Endosulfan; Order to be effective till ICMR submits report

The Supreme Court on May 13, banned the manufacture, sale, use and export of endosulfan throughout the country, citing its harmful health effects. The ban would remain effective till the time the joint committee, formed under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Agriculture Commissioner, submits its report to the court about the harmful effect of the widely used pesticide. The report is expected to be filed within eight weeks.

Andhra takes the plunge

The agriculture department is finally taking note of the non pesticide management technique of farming.  The Andhra Pradesh government issued an order on May 16 that the rural development and the agriculture department would work together to reduce the cost of cultivation and move towards a pesticide free cultivation across the state.
 

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A Global Ban for Endosulfan
  • India changes its position on endosulfan at the Stockholm Convention

  • It softens its stand and agrees that endosulfan is a health hazard.

  • It agrees to a ban on the pesticide.

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India joins the World*

*Conditions Apply

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Grand Finale: Day 5 April 29

The last day of the Stockholm Convention, ushered some good news for all those crusading against endosulfan in India. Endosulfan has finally been brought under the Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, which means that Endosulfan should be banned globally. India softened its stand and agreed to the listing without any opposition. This was a welcome move as India had become almost notorious for opposing any ban on endosulfan in the international arena ever since it was introduced as a persistent organic pollutant in the fourth Stockholm Convention in 2008.

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CSE responds to the endosulfan industry's bullying tactics


I thought I should let you know about the recent attacks against us by the pesticide industry. You will recall, we had way back in 2001 analyzed samples of soil, water and blood from Padre village in Kerala to check for contamination. We went there because local doctors and activists wrote about the horrific diseases and abnomalities in this region. We tested and found high levels of endosulfan pesticide.

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Pawar on Endosulfan

As the fifth Conference of Parties (COP) of Stockholm Convention gear up to meet at Geneva in the last week of April and decide the fate of endosulfan, the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is busy rooting for the pesticide.

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SC Demands Explanation from CBI

A five judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice HS Kapadia, on April 13, began the hearing of curative petitions in the Bhopal gas tragedy. While hearing the curative petition filed by the CBI to re-examine the 1996 Supreme Court's judgement, the five judge bench questioned the CBI for approaching the court after a gap of 16 years and not filing a review petition during these years.

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Endosulfan Added to Trade "Watch List"

United Nations chemical experts have recommended endosulfan to be included in the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent procedure. 

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Anderson's Extradition & Approval for a Memorial

A Delhi court of the chief metropolitan magistrate gave the green signal to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 23 to extradite former Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) chairperson Warren Anderson- an accused in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy case, now based in US. Anderson, now 90, has never faced trial in the Bhopal gas tragedy case.

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Endosulfan Industry's dirty war to save its toxic product: Summary of Recent Events by CSE

As the demand for a ban on Endosulfan in India is gaining pitch and Karnataka being the latest state to ban the pesticide, the Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) is going around crying foul. They are leaving no stone unturned to save endosulfan. Press meets across the country and plugged newspaper reports maligning studies that have indicted endosulfan in the past is a desperate attempt to save a US $100 million endosulfan industry.

Special Mention on Cancer Train

By H K Dua in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2011
 
Train No 339 leaves Abohar every night to reach Bikaner next morning.  Over a period of time it has come to be known as “Cancer Train”.  This train has acquired the dubious reputation simply because nearly 100 cancer patients travel by it from Punjab to Bikaner for diagnosis and treatment at the Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Institute.

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BIS to release Phthalates standard in two months

The Bombay High Court directed the Bureau of Indian Standards on March 24,2011 to set standards on phthalates in toys within two months. The court also directed the Ministry of Commerce, once the BIS sets standards, to issue a notification mandating the phthalates standards in toys.

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Customs and Central Excise withdraws controversial ad

Drink aerated drinks and do social service 

The Customs and Central Excise Department refrains from publishing its advertisement again which suggested that drinking aerated drinks was akin to social service as the central excise duty paid on these drinks was used to provide drinking water to millions.

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EMFWA takes Karnataka to court

The Endosulfan Manufactures and Formulators Welfare Association (EMFWA) have challenged the Karnataka ban on endosulfan in the Karnataka High Court. They pesticide manufacturers have said that the ban was 'unscientific' as there are no studies done in the state to prove that endosulfan was the cause of the health conditions of the people in the affected villages.

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Pesticides in soft drinks

Adopting dual standards is a practice large multi national corporations follow especially when it comes to developing countries. Soft drinks industry is a classic case of this as the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) discovered way back in 2003.  A laboratory report prepared by CSE detailed some astonishing facts about the extent of pesticide contamination in soft drinks sold in India.

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Antibiotics in honey

Ayurveda prescribes it for a range of ailments. People eat it for rejuvenation and boosting immunity. An Indian homemaker’s kitchen shelf is incomplete without a jar of this amber liquid. But without quality and safety controls, this gift of nature has been contaminated. CSE laboratory tests find high levels of antibiotics in well-known brands of honey sold in the market.

 

 

 

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CSE "picketed" by pesticide industry employees

Today the pesticide industry sent four employees to ‘picket’ our office. We know that they were employees because when asked, they told us “We work at United Phosphorus Limited” a major producer of pesticides and added further “we have been sent here by our boss”. They brought with them posters and slogans. We offered them water, tea and chairs to sit on.

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India holds on to Endosulfan

At the sixth meeting of Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to the Stockholm Convention (Geneva Oct 11-15), India once again opposed a global ban on the manufacture, use, import and export of endosulfan. Of the 29 members in the review committee, 24 supported the ban and four (Germany, Ghana, Nigeria and China) abstained.

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Toxic toys

We generally take toys for granted but this may no longer be the case atleast not if we are concerned about the health of our young children.

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Pesticides in bottled water

One often finds unsuspecting people buying bottled water or packaged drinking water thinking its safe. Well think again. As the Centre for Science and Environment laboratory report found after analysing bottled water samples from Mumbai and Delhi these products can be far more lethal than one can imagine. The samples contained a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues. What is worse most of the samples contained as many as five different pesticide residues, in levels far exceeding the standards specified as safe for drinking water.

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Lead in paints

Modern houses are full of harmful chemicals. One of them is lead, present in paints. Though several countries have banned the use of this substance India is yet to do so, which is why paint makers use them. Inhaling lead dust while performing mundane chores like opening or closing windows is the most common source of lead poisoning. The human body is not designed to process lead. Young children are particularly vulnerable to lead as it can damage the central nervous system and the brain.

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Pesticide residues in blood of Punjab farmers

Pesticides are commonly used in India but this comes at great cost to human health. The Centre for Science and Environment decided to investigate the matter and looked at the agricultural heartland of Punjab. It found that  15 different pesticides in the 20 blood samples tested from four villages in Punjab. But what is more important to find out is how much of pesticide in blood is ‘safe’. Does a safety threshold level exist? If yes, how do scientists — and the industry — compute it?

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Pesticide regulations

Pesticides are widely used in agriculture without paying much heed to the consequences of its unregulated and indiscriminate use . This fact has been known to our policy makers for nearly five decades. The government is atleast under law supposed to regulate its use. The Insecticides Act of 1968 is a key piece of legislation that is supposed to govern the use, manufacture, distribution, sale and transport of insecticides with a view to lowering risks to human and animal health.

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Trans fat in oils

Oil is essential for our body to function. But that does not mean that we should take for granted the cooking mediums we use in our food. As the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) laboratory report recently discovered our branded edible oils are full of unhealthy trans fats. The results showed trans fats in seven leading vanaspati brands were five to 12 times the 2 per cent standard set by Denmark. Trans fats are formed during the process of addition of hydrogen atoms to oils, a process industry prefers as it keeps the oil from turning rancid and ensures a longer shelf life.

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Mercury

Mercury is a very toxic and dangerous substance. It is  poisonous in all forms - inorganic, organic or elemental. Mercury is a proven neurotoxin. Inhaling mercury vapours can severely damage the respiratory tract. Sore throat, coughing, pain or tightness in the chest, headache, muscle weakness, anorexia, gastrointestinal disturbance, fever, bronchitis and pneumonitis are symptoms of mercury toxicity. Health concerns should be reason enough for us to properly manage its imports and disposal.

Updates

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China shored up its regulations on chemical residues in food with a new national standard, the Ministry of Agriculture said Wednesday. Compared with the 2014 version, the standard adds 490 limits for

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Junk Food Busted

As we all know, junk food is defined as food with empty calories - it provides fat, sugar and salt, without nutrition. But how bad is it? This is what CSE's laboratory checked recently. The results were both predictable and alarming. Read the book to know more.

Price: Rs. 280.00 (US $ 15)

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Down To Earth

Says disposal will cost Rs 210 crore while using existing raw material stock to manufacture the pesticide will increase crop production
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