In the food industry today two words stand out – Pesticides and Organic.

A brief history of pesticides

Pesticides are not a modern invention but have been used since before 2000 BC. The first known such chemical was elemental sulphur dusting used in ancient Mesopotamia. By the 15th century, toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and lead were also used as pesticides. The 17th century saw nicotine sulphate and the 20th century saw DDT being used. The 20th century is also known as the ‘Pesticide Era’ as they are being used to protect crops and to increase yields to fulfil the ever-growing demand for fresh vegetables and fruits.

Use this link to view the different types of pesticides –

Why are pesticides harmful?

They not only contaminate the vegetables and fruits that they are sprayed on but cause soil pollution and air pollution. These chemicals contaminate the water table and cause water pollution, all of which allows poisonous substances to enter our bodies.

Over the years, the use of pesticides has increased by many folds. The Indian Express newspaper reports on the significant rise in the level of such chemicals in recent years. This study by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) finds that toxic pesticide levels have exceeded set limits and are making fresh produce poisonous.

Read the article here:

Dailymail, a UK newspaper reports that up to 98% of fruits consumed are contaminated by pesticides. Processed foods have also been found to have alarming amounts of substance residue in them. The article goes on to state that the practice of washing fruits and vegetables to remove chemical residue is not always effective.

Read the article here:

Pesticides are known to cause many neurological diseases, many types of cancer, reproductive disorders and a host of other health issues in adults.  They have also been known to cause developmental delays in infants and children.

What can we do?

There is  an urgent need to look at a reduction or removal of poisonous chemicals from our food and to focus on better monitoring procedures to ensure that pesticide usage is contained within set maximum residue limits. The FSSAI is the main regulatory body tasked with setting up procedures when it comes to pesticides in our food. It is important that we as consumers educate ourselves on what is being done and how best we can avoid consuming chemically laden foods.

Another option is to ‘go organic’.

Keep tuned for more on organic foods in another article.

Editorial Team

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