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CSE report on pesticide in colas has loopholes: Govt

The health ministry says that a balanced approach has not been followed by CSE while undertaking the scientific review.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2006 11:52 IST

In a report that could provide some relief to soft drink MNCs Pepsi and Coke, an official experts committee on Tuesday, punched holes in the report of the Centre for Science and Environment on pesticides in colas that led to total or partial ban on their sales in some states.

"Balanced approach (by CSE in reviewing the literatures on various aspects) has not been followed while undertaking the scientific review," the Committee headed by Dr D Kannungo, said in its findings, made public by the Health Ministry on Tuesday.

"The (CSE) report does not provide details about a number of pertinent points, which are required for the confirmatory interpretation of quantum results." the Committee, constitute by the government within days of Sunita Narain of CSE coming out with the report that claimed presence of very high level of pesticides in various brands of US cola giants Pepsico and Coca Cola.

Health Minister A Ramadoss constituted the committee on August 4 to examine "the methodology of sampling, methodology of testing and validity as well as the consistency of results derived by CSE in its report."

Looking into each of these aspects, the Expert Committee said that not only the sampling methodology lacked "scientific and statistically valid basis" but the "residue data reported based on GC-Mass confirmation is inconclusive."

Questioning the competence of the CSE lab facility in conducting such tests, the committee said the "laboratory operates to the requirements of ISO 9001 does not demonstrates its competence to produce technically valid data and results."

"In the report, CSE has mentioned that it has set up the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) to monitor environmental pollution. PML is an ISO 9001:2000 certified laboratory, accredited by SWISO, Switzerland, doing pollution monitoring and conducting scientific studies on environmental samples," the Committee report said.

The Committee after deliberating the various findings in the 'Conclusions' (by CSE) did not find these "conclusions as correctly inferred, based on their study as made available", the report said.

Analysing presence of pesticide as claimed by CSE, the Committee said, "the prevalence of different isomers of HCH are in contradiction to their biological nature. Further, no confirmatory evidence are supplemented to support the result."

Commenting on total ion Chromotogram (GC-MS) of various samples, the Committee said, "comparison of GC-MS of samples with the library hits has been done at 5 ppm (particle per million) whereas the confirmation of the containment has been done at ppb (particle per billion) level.

"Most of the Characteristic fragmented ions are not recorded despite the fact the various pesticides contaminant have been claimed to be present in the market samples. Therefore, the residue data based on GC-MS confirmation is inconclusive."

Citing contradictions in the report, it questioned presence of various chemicals and said while some of these were banned others were unlikely to be there in view of their chemical composition of the concentrates.

First Published: Aug 22, 2006 18:47 IST