Chemical-induced food adulteration will destroy food chains: Experts
Already many species are extinct, now humans in danger, they say
All the creatures of Mother Nature, - tress, humans, animals- all are inter- linked in the food chain. When one is affected then others will automatically be affected, an ecology expert said.
"The research report on milk (non processed) says poisonous components like pesticide and lead are responsible for affecting our food chain. The elements ultimately destroy our food chains and cause various kinds of diseases" Paval Partha, a researcher of ecology-biodiversity and conservation said while talking to the Daily Observer over phone.
The Daily Observer talked with a few experts after reviewing the report of the National Food Safety Laboratory (NFSL), revealed its survey result on Sunday.
A government-run food testing laboratory has found presence of lead, pesticides, and several other harmful chemicals in the samples it took of cow fodder and dairy products from different parts of the country.
The survey was conducted on samples of cow fodder, cow milk, packaged milk and curd, collected from 27 upazilas under four districts including Dhaka.
We have not heard before the presence of chemicals and pesticides in the food items because earlier farmers used different kinds of traditional fertilizers including green manure, cow dung and other organic substances, he added.
The problem began when our farmers started to use various kinds of chemical -fertilizers in the soil.
Initially they used urea, later sulfate, and now, also use Di Ammonium Phosphate. Before 1947, the government distributed pesticides free of cost among farmers in cooperation with Department of Agricultural Extension DAE.
"Today we are facing the consequences of using pesticides, the government's . respective department advised our farmers to use these pesticides without realizing its bad consequences in the future. So the government should take the responsibility," said Delwar Jahan, an agro-based farmer. Asked what steps the government should take, he said that government should launch a massive awareness programme that should include people from all walks of life especially farmers.
Chemicals and pesticide destroy soil's moisture and gradually turn soil it infertile. "The farmers must be educated that chemicals and pesticides suck soil's moisture and ultimately destroy the lands and sources of other foods that finally cause various diseases to human," he added.
Soil has a food cycle, there are lichen moss, fungus (fungi), bacteria and some micro organisms coexist in the soil and they depend on each other.
They must be taught that snakes, frogs, earthworms, snails, some birds are depending on each other, they all are the members of this soil food cycle, if we kill one entity then gradually we human will be killed, he added.
Bangladesh needs to produce more food to feed its ever increasing population and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.
Counting this point Sultan Bhuiyan, an Agricultural expert, said a balanced policy is also needed for Bangladesh, producing more food does not mean putting harmful pesticides into the fields. "We have to achieve SDGs by keeping our mother nature and other natural sources unhurt," he added.
Without limiting the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, it is highly unlikely to preserve the food chain and thus achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he viewed. "Chemical fertilizers also destroy the soil bio- mass, which is important for maintaining ecosystem and crop production. Excessive use of chemicals destroys soil nutrients like sodium, potassium, nitrogen and creates imbalances in soil fertility," he added.
"Chemicals and heavy metals like lead have entered in our food chain. Now nothing is left safe unless we begin from the beginning to start a drive to free food from adulteration," Doctor Lelin Chowdhury said.
He firmly believes that different sources are responsible for causing milk infected with different heavy metals.
Referring to government's zero tolerance policy on drugs and terrorism, he also noted that government should show seven times more zero tolerance in regards of food adulteration as it threatens nature and humans alike.
"I mean government should take stern action against food adulteration and criminal users should be brought to account," he added.
These types of poisonous chemical exist not only in the food but also in the air, so government's drives should be in the both level.
"Now we understand that lead and other chemical components are also available in the air, so government must take steps not only in regards of foods but also the environment. Because keeping environment polluted it is not possible to ensure food free from adulteration," he added.
The government has introduced three laws and acts - Food Safety Act-2013, Consumer Rights Protection Act-2009 and Formalin Control Act-2015 to ensure safety food.
Of them, the 2013 Food Safety Act suggests five years' imprisonment with a penalty of Tk 20, 00,000. We have such a strong law but still people are becoming victims of food adulteration due to lack of implementation of existing laws, said engineer Abul Sobhan, General Secretary of Poribesh Banchao Andolon.