NHRC alarmed over increasing pesticides in food items, issues notice to FSSAI

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report, that claimed that there has been an almost two-fold increase in the number of samples containing pesticides above the permitted Maximum Residue Level (MRL) in vegetables, fruits, meat and spices in the last six years.

Considering it a serious issue of human rights violation, member of the Commission, Justice D. Murugesan, has issued notices to the Chairperson of Food and Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) and has asked them to inform about the action taken to minimize the residue level in vegetables, foods, meat and spices within eight weeks.

Justice D. Murugesan said that food is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.

“It has been repeatedly pointed out by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the right to food is a Fundamental Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is to be emphasized that any food article, which is hazardous and injurious to public health, is a potential danger to the Fundamental Right to Life,” he said.

“The enjoyment of life and attainment, including right to life and human dignity encompasses, within its ambit availability of articles of food, without insecticides or pesticides residues, veterinary drugs residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues etc,” he added.

He said that states must ensure appropriate level of protection of human life and health.

“Though, it is the paramount duty of the States and its authorities to achieve an appropriate level for protection of human life and health which is a Fundamental Right as well as human right, the reports of rampant use of pesticides etc. in food articles continue to pour in,” he said.

According to the report, it is well-known that vegetables sold in major cities contain pesticides, but it has now emerged that these harmful chemicals are present in alarming high doses in greens across India.

The maximum number of failed samples in most Test Centres was of the vegetables. The situation is even more alarming in Delhi and Mumbai. Out of 629 samples analyzed by PC Cell Centres, Delhi’s 223 samples reportedly contained residue out of which 20 samples contained it above the MRL. The Export Inspection Council Centre, Kolkata and Mumbai analyzed 1149 samples out of which 352 contained residue and 22 had it above MRL.