Paradigm shift in India's health policy needed, say top officials speaking at CSE conference on Food Safety and Environmental Toxins

Policy should move from disease control to prevention, and focus more on water and sanitation, safe food and clean environment

Conference puts forth action points on a range of issues – pesticides, junk food, organic farming, antibiotics and growth promoters etc

Asks for more independent labs to support community struggles on pollution and health issues

New Delhi, February 21, 2013: “India needs a paradigm shift in the way it manages its people’s health. It needs to move its public health policy from disease control towards prevention, focusing on water and sanitation, safe food and clean environment. In fact, the role of the ministry of health and family welfare should be recast to enable this shift:” This was one of the conclusions drawn at the end of the two-day conference on Food Safety and Environmental Toxins, organized here by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Speakers at the conference -- among whom were T Ramasami, secretary, department of science and technology; Keshav Desiraju, secretary, department of health and family welfare; K Chandramouli, chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India; Rakesh Kacker, secretary, ministry of food processing industries; and CSE director general Sunita Narain – also pointed out that “policymaking in India remains largely within the government, and there is a need to evolve a transparent process which will involve the civil society as well”.

This conference was organized to 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. In this context, the conference underlined the need for more such independent labs to support community struggles on pollution and health issues (see earlier press release on our website,

On pesticide regulations
Most speakers were of the opinion that the government should move pesticide registration from the control of the ministry of agriculture to either health or environment, with bio-safety as the main mandate.

“There is a need to review all registered pesticides taking into account comparative risk assessment (especially for vulnerable groups like children) and deregister toxic and obsolete pesticides. We should also review and set MRLs based on ADI for all food commodities, including processed and packaged foods,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and head of its Food Safety Programme.

The conference called for publication of an annual report on the status of pesticide contamination in the country. The process of this publication should be transparent, with participation from the civil society. It also asked for a review of what the state agricultural universities are recommending to farmers and set up systems to take strict action for prescribing illegal pesticides.

On organic farming
“Organic and non-pesticide farming is showing encouraging results across the country. However, the support of the governments to these practices is negligible. Subsidies should be moved away from pesticides and fertilizers towards ecologically sustainable alternatives both at the production and market ends,” says Chandra Bhushan, summarizing the conference’s key message on this issue.

On junk food
The conference recognized the need for an appropriate regulatory framework to monitor junk food advertisements specifically targeted towards children. It also stressed on strengthening labeling norms specifically related to nutritional information. Speaking in the session on junk food, Sunita Narain said: “Junk food should be banned in schools.”

•    For the conference presentations and other information, please visit:
•    For setting up interviews, please contact Sheeba Madan (8860659190, or Souparno Banerjee (9910864339,


  Workshop Programme
  South Asian Media Briefing
  Press Releases
  New Delhi, Feb. 21, 2013
Paradigm shift in India’s health policy needed, say top officials speaking at CSE conference on Food Safety and Environmental Toxins
  New Delhi, Feb. 20, 2013
CSE's national conference on food safety and environmental toxins kicks off
  Photo Gallery
  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 Book
  Food As Toxin
  CSE Lab studies
  Centre in favour of manufacture of endosulfan
  Pesticides in bottled water
  Pesticides in soft drinks
  Pesticide residues in blood of Punjab farmers
  Junk Food
  Toxic toys
  Lead in paints
  Capping the Caffeine
  Antibiotics in honey
  Trans fat in oils
  IEP: Food Safety