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Milk too contains pesticides

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 00:50 IST

A STUDY by a joint team of experts of Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT) and Ewing Christian College (ECC) has established that bovine milk being produced and consumed in villages of Allahabad contains harmful levels of pesticides like Organophosphates and Organochlorines having the potential to cause serious health problems for the people and defeating the very benefits of milk as health food.

The facts came to light following systematic tests of milk samples collected from rural as well as urban areas of Allahabad district.

"Milk samples collected from small-scale urban and rural dairies and tested for selected array of Organochlorines and Organophosphates revealed that BHC is still the most common pollutant being present in two-thirds of the samples, followed by Methyl Parathion (37.5 per cent Dieldrin and 2, 4 DDE (12.5 per cent each)," informed Dr SS Narvi of MNNIT's Chemistry department.

Dr Narvi joined up with her own department's Shivi Srivastava and ECC Chemistry department's Sharda Sundaram Sanjay for the study.

Dr Narvi said that the sample tests revealed that the Mean quantity of Methyl Parathion (0.3496 mg/ kg : whole milk basis) was 1.7 times higher than BHC (mean 0.2104 mg/kg: whole milk basis).

"The mean value was 0.35 times higher than the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) prescribed by Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1992, India. In case of Methyl Parathion, 1.05 times higher for BHC, 2.30 times for Dieldrin and 0.07 times for 2,4 DDE. Rural dairy samples carried higher load of Methyl Parathion which may be attributed to the large-scale agricultural practice in that area," Dr Narvi said.

He said that the pesticidal contamination in bovine milk could be attributed to the food chain contamination of the adipose tissue of the animal and subsequent leaching into milk fat. "Secondary contamination is also possible due to direct contamination during milking or improper handling during transportation," he added.

Expressing concern over the findings, a co-researcher in the study, Shivi Srivastava, says that milk constitutes a significant part of human nutrition and is the major contributor of protein in vegetarian diet. "Pesticidal contamination of milk, therefore, can have far reaching consequences and requires serious monitoring. Pesticides have been proved to have serious hazards to human health," she said.

Going into the depth of the reasons behind the findings, Dr Narvi said the it seems that despite various measures and initiatives by government and its machinery, usage of banned pesticides is rampant in rural areas owing to the ignorance about the harmful effect of the pesticides among the villagers.

He stressed on the need for strengthening government machinery like agriculture protection units in villages and kicking-off mass awareness programmes in the area as possible solution to the problem.