CSE's national conference on food safety and environmental toxins kicks off

Puts the limelight on lax regulations, weak enforcement

Marks a decade of work by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab, which did seminal studies on endosulfan toxicity in Kerala, mercury contamination in Sonbhadra, and pesticide residue pollution in soft drinks

New Delhi, February 20, 2013:
At a beginning of a two-day conference here on Food Safety and Environmental Toxins, organized by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), most speakers were of the opinion that food safety regulatory structures in India were either too weak or simply ignored. T Ramasami, secretary, department of science and technology, addressing the gathering of scientists, civil society activists, regulators, health experts and media from across the country, said that the “government needed to provide a policy and regulatory framework and enforcement structure”. According to him, India will have to concentrate on improving public health in future, and in doing this, the role of public service institutions such as CSE and its Lab would be critical.

In fact, this conference is being organized to also mark a decade of work by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab, which has been instrumental in carrying out some seminal studies in testing for toxins in food and environment.
Tracing the history of the work done by the Lab, CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “If you can use science for building public confidence, you can use science to make a difference.”

Keshav Desiraju, secretary, department of health and family welfare, speaking in the same session, pointed out that while there is a resistance to regulations and regulatory controls, what is needed is a regulatory approach that targets manufacturers on one hand, and a public which demands quality in products on the other. “If there is good reason to believe that food is not meeting standards, then consumer and advocacy groups can take up the cause. It won’t be easy, as industry is against us, and it caters differently for abroad and India. We would need to involve schools, young people,” he said.  

On its first day, the conference covered subjects such as pesticides and pesticide regulations, community struggles and the role of independent labs, and junk food and non-communicable diseases. The key speakers included S Dave, chairperson, CODEX Alimentarius Commission; K Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India; E A S Sarma, coordinator, Forum for Better Visakha, Vishakhapatnam; and G V Ramanjenuyulu, executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad, among others.

The CSE Lab: A decade of public service
CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab, or PML, is an independent analytical, research and development laboratory that determines pesticide residues, and conducts water quality analysis and ambient air monitoring. It disseminates the information resulting from these scientific analyses, with the aim of raising public awareness about pollution and its health impacts. Says Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and the head of the Lab: “The mission of the Lab is to catalyze communities and NGOs to fight polluters across the country by supporting them with scientific proof and documentation of pollution and its health impacts.”

Beginning with a landmark study on endosulfan contamination in Kerala, the Lab has done path-breaking research on a range of issues -- pesticide contamination in bottled water and soft drinks, pesticide residues in the blood of Punjab farmers, fatty acid profile of edible oils, antibiotics in honey, nutritional analysis of junk food, and most recently, mercury contamination in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district. The lab’s study on soft drinks led to the setting up of the country’s first Joint Parliamentary Committee on issues of public health. 

In 2012, the Lab had released the results of its Sonbhadra study, which had found high levels of mercury in the environment as well as bodies of local people in Uttar Pradesh’s second largest district. Mercury was detected in samples of water, soil, cereals and fish, as well as blood, nails and hair of people living in the area. Says Chandra Bhushan: “What we had found was frightening – signs of mercury poisoning that bring to the mind memories of the devastating mercury contamination in Minamata in Japan.”



Photo Gallery

Amr In Animals

IEP Resources

Workshop Programme
Presentations Day 2
Chemical Body Burden Can we keep a check?

By: Chandra Bhushan

Antibiotics in Honey(CSE Study)

By: Amit Khurana

Antibiotic Residues in Milk: A public Health Concern

By: Chand Ram Grover and Bhavadasan, M.K,

Antibiotic Resistance: A Challenge to Public Health in India

By: Ramanan Laxminarayan

Food Standards, Consumer Expectations and Confidence: Challenges Ahead

By: Prof. Sri Ram Khanna

National Chemical Management Profile

By Dr. D.D. Basu

Street Food Vendors

By: Arbind Singh

Promotion and Certification of Organic Farming

By: Dr. Krishan Chandra

Biomarker and Body Burden

By: Dr.Tapan Chakrabarti

Body Burden of Toxicants

By: K.C. Gupta

Impediments in Organic Agriculture & Organic products

By: Rajashekar Reddy

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and its mainstreaming

By: Miguel Braganza

Why Organic?

By: Latha Jishnu

Presentations Day 1
CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory: Achievements and Challenges

By: Sunita Narain

State of Pesticide Regulations in India

By: Chandra Bhushan

Pesticides in Food Commodities and Health Impact

By: Dr. J. Padmaja Rambabu,

Junk Food Advertisement targeted towards Children

By: Sharad Vadehra

Agricultural contaminants: Farm Practices in Pesticide use

By: Dr. P. Indira Devi

Regulation of Pesticides in India

By: Kavitha Kuruganti

Learning from Experiences of Non Pesticidal Management in Andhra Pradesh

By: Ramanjaneyulu

Conference on food safety and Environmental toxins

By: Jaya kumar

Junk Food & Obesity in Children: Opting to go under the knife

By: Dr Ramen Goel

Struggle against Corporate Environmental Crime and Complicity of Government Scientific Bodies in Bhopal

By: Satinath Sarangi

CSE’S STUDY ON JUNK FOOD Why we should worry about food we love to eat?

By: Avimuktesh

Media Clippings

HT: New Delhi, Feb 26, 2013

'9% kids below 14 morbidly obese'

Deccan Chronicle: Feb. 21, 2013

Food safety norms weak: Experts

Nature: Feb. 21, 2013

Of pesticides and fertilisers

Central Chronicle: New Delhi, Feb. 2013

Need to check junk food menace
CSE Lab studies
Junk Food