Authors: 1Govind.B.Shiurkar*,2Narayan Lal, 3Kavita Sinha and 4Vinod K. Markam
3DPDt, ATMA, Kanker, CG
4Assistant Professor, CoA, Jagdalpur, Department of Plant Pathology, IGKVV, Raipur
The greatest challenge of today’s agriculture is to feed the growing population and restore the natural resources. Global food production needs to be doubled by 2020 and just to maintain the present precipitate food consumption. Uncontrolled population growth in developing countries accelerated the imbalance between human needs and sustainable use of land. Though by virtue of chemical fertilizers and pesticides the production and productivity of crops has increased, the increased use of pesticides has posed many environmental and health problems. The chemical fertilizers and pesticides used over a long period of time have adverse toxic effects on the production potential of the land and the ultimate consumers of the products. The term pesticide covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides, plant growth regulators and others. The introduction of synthetic insecticides – organophosphate (OP) insecticides in the 1960s, carbamates in 1970s and pyrethroids in 1980s and the introduction of herbicides and fungicides in 1970s - 1980s contributed greatly in pest control and agricultural output. Ideally a pesticide must be lethal to the targeted pests, but not to non-target species, including man. Unfortunately, this is not, so the controversy of use and abuse of pesticides has surfaced. The rampant use of these chemicals, under the adage, “if little is good, a lot more will be better” has played havoc with human and other life forms.
The use of pesticides is a standard practice in the agricultural production of food products. Pesticides protect yields by limiting losses due to competition with other weeds and from attack by insects or plant diseases etc. These chemicals have played a central role in the improved yields and the quality of the products that we seen over the last fifty years. The production of pesticides started in India in 1952 with the establishment of a plant for the production of BHC near Calcutta, and India is now the second largest manufacturer of pesticides in Asia after China and ranks twelfth globally. Farmers of the olden days relied on the use of organic farming techniques and methods in cultivating their crops. Natural methods such as crop rotation, companion planting and the use of compost were all employed to ensure a bountiful and safe harvest. As commercial farming slowly gained popularity over organic farming, the natural methods were replaced with the ones using chemicals for fertilizers, pesticides and weed killers. The promise of higher yield in a shorter period of time is the selling point of these chemicals. But heavy reliance on chemicals is starting to take its toll on the vast farmlands and on the people’s health. Toxic residues of agricultural chemicals entering the human diet are of major concern today. Indians take about 40 times more pesticides through food items than the average American intake.The average dietary intake of pesticide residues in mg/day/person in various countries is as follows.
Table 1. Pesticide residue in different countries
|Countries||Pesticide residues in mg/day/person|
|India -Non vegetarians||356.3|
The Effects of Pesticide on Children
According to studies and researches, pesticides have grave effects on children and these can be measured in several ways. Children’s internal organs are still developing and maturing, so the effects can be seen and measured at present and in the future when they have grown up. The immediate effect is the blockage of important food nutrients for normal and healthy growth among children. When the excretory system of the child is not fully developed and yet he or she consumes fruits or vegetables with pesticides, his or her body may not be able to totally get rid of the pesticides.
Effects of Pesticides on Adults
When a pregnant woman eats vegetables contaminated with pesticides, the fetus can be exposed to the harmful chemical and cause birth defects. Pesticides can also be neurotoxins which can make a person feel light-headed, dizzy and confused, and it may reduce body coordination and ability to think in the short run. In the long term, these can result in reduced IQ and learning capacities and in the worst case, can lead to permanent brain damage.
Effects of pesticides on fruits and vegetables
Farmers of the olden days relied on the use of organic farming techniques and methods in cultivating their crops. Natural methods such as crop rotation, companion planting and the use of compost were all employed to ensure a bountiful and safe harvest. As commercial farming slowly gained popularity over organic farming, the natural methods were replaced with the ones using chemicals for fertilizers, pesticides and weed killers. The promise of higher yield in a shorter period of time is the selling point of these chemicals. But heavy reliance on chemicals is starting to take its toll on the vast farmlands and on the people’s health. Fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and form as key food commodity in the human consumption. They are highly perishable due to their low shelf life. These food commodities are reported to be contaminated with toxic and health hazardous chemicals.
When a fruit ripens, many biochemical changes occur. The most obvious of these is the color, aroma and firmness of the fruit. Although illegal in many countries, calcium carbide (CaC2) is used to accelerate the ripening process of fruits. Calcium carbide is the chemical used for the production of acetylene gas during gas welding. But nowadays this processis widely used by the Indian farmers or the fruit vendors for ripening of many fruits like mango, banana, papaya, plums, sapota, apples, avocados, melons, peaches, pears, and tomatoes, pineapples, dates, etc. This allows growers to pick fruit sooner and to handle fruits when they are green and less susceptible to bruising or damage. Calcium carbide combines with moisture in the air to release a gas called acetylene, which acts the same way as the natural ethylene fruits produce when ripening
Worst Contaminated Vegetables on the Market
The vegetables that are heavily-laden with pesticides include lettuce, spinach, peppers, celery, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, broccoli and mushrooms. Among all of these, celery and lettuce contain the most pesticides while broccoli and eggplants contain the least amounts.
Eco-friendly approaches may be helpful to avoid pesticides residues:
A. Organic farming: Organic farming is a production system, which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming system rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, lagumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral-bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds, and other pests.
B. Biological farming: Biological farming allows the use of selected chemical fertilizer (avoiding disruptive materials such as anhydrous ammonia and potassium chloride) and adopts low-inputs approaches to use of herbicides and insecticides. (Diagnostic instruments to monitor plant and soil conditions are frequently used in biological farming. These include refract meters to monitor sugar content (Brix) in plant tissue sap; electrical conductivity meters to monitor ERGS (or energy releasedper gram of soil); ORPS meters (or oxygen reduction potential of soil); and radionics.)
C. Regenerative Agriculture: In regenerative agriculture bunds on nature’s own inherent capacity to cope with pests, enhance soil fertility, and increase productivity. It implies a continuing ability to recreate the resources that the system requires. In practice, regenerative agriculture uses low-input and organic farming systems as a frame work to achieve these goals.
D. Permaculture : Permaculture is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non- material nedds in a sustainable way.Permaculture is concerned with designing ecological human habitats and foodproduction systems, and follows specific guidelines and principles in the design of these systems.
There are some practices to reduce or minimizes the pesticides residues given below:
1. Do not choose fruits that are attractive on the outside as they may not be good for health.
Fruits that have a uniform colour, for example, a bunch of bananas having a uniform colour, are more likely to have been artificially ripened.
2. Wash the fruits thoroughly before consuming. Keep them under running water for a few minute, so that the chemicals are washed away.
3. Do not buy fruits sold during their off season, as they are more likely to be artificially ripened.
4. While eating mangoes and papayas, always remove the peel before cutting fruits into pieces.
5. Select fruits and vegetables without spots or necrosis (lesions) and any abnormality.
6. Purchase fruits and vegetables from known dealers.
7. Peeling of fruits before consumption and vegetables before cooking will reduce exposure to pesticide.
8 Do not buy and consume cut fruits from open market.
9. Throw away fruits and vegetables infected by mould/fungus. -3-
10. Minimize the hazards of pesticide residues by discarding the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage.
11. Do not wash fruits and vegetables with detergents as they may get absorbed inside.You can keep the chemical from entering your body by consuming organic vegetables.
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