Pro-organic groups want proper systems to protect consumers

KV KURMANATH

With reports of pesticide residues found in ‘organic’ food hitting the headlines last month, the pro-organic groups have asked farmers to move towards non-pesticide management and organic farming in the real sense.

Pro-organic groups want genuine growers of organic food to become whistleblowers against the unscrupulous players, while maintaining transparency. They also want consumers to know more about their food (both conventional and organic), including the source, and how the food is grown.

As the findings that emanated from Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) showed a third of organic food sold in the national capital contained pesticide residues, the pro-organic groups termed the report a “frivolous diversionary ploy” to keep people’s attention away from real food safety concerns of citizens.

Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) and Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) have said that agri-chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides were unsustainable inputs in agriculture.

“It is ironical and unreasonable that conventional foods produced using hazardous substances like synthetic pesticides totally escape the onus of disclosure, while significantly safer organic produce is being portrayed as being more unsafe,” they said in the joint statement.

There is an urgent need to ensure proper systems, checks and measures are in place to protect organic consumers from malpractices in the market that unethically cash in on their concern for safe food.

The groups wanted the government to provide easy and affordable access to labs for testing toxic chemical residues. “Currently, accessing labs for such testing of marketed foods is both costly and cumbersome for consumers or organic farmers. This will have a positive effect on transparency relating to both, allowing greater informed choice to consumers,” the statement said.

The groups asked the government to procure organic food for public distribution system and other schemes.

(This article was published on January 1, 2015)