CHENNAI: Minister for Housing and Agriculture R Vaithilingam on Friday told the State Assembly that vegetables and fruits grown in Tamil Nadu were absolutely safe. He rubbished the claim of the Kerala government that the stock from Tamil Nadu contained pesticide residue.
“The presence of pesticide residue in vegetables at the national level stands at 2.7 per cent while in Tamil Nadu it is only one per cent — under the permissible limit. Mangoes, bananas and cucumber are being exported in large quantities to foreign countries.If there is pesticide residue in these items, how would they acceptit”, the minister wondered while replying to a call attention motion raised by CPM and CPI members.
The minister further pointed out that when 103 samples of cardamom produced in Kerala were subjected to lab tests, 64 samples showed a pesticide residue above the permissible limit. He referred to reports that the bogey of “pesticide residue in Tamil Nadu vegetables” was being raised only to market the Veg Wash liquid invented by Kerala Agriculture University.
They claimed that if vegetables were washed using the liquid, pesticide residue would be removed. There were 68 laboratories in India to test the pesticide residue in vegetables and 15 were in Tamil Nadu. The state government had been implementing many measures for pest control without using pesticides.
Revealing that 800 tonnes of vegetables continued to be transported to Kerala in 250 trucks per day, the minister said the Kerala government never banned the flow of vegetables from Tamil Nadu but only insisted on transport of vegetables by licensed suppliers. Slamming the Kerala government for not getting Tamil Nadu’s concurrence for its field study in the state to detect presence of pesticides, the minister said TN government would ask Kerala to stop its officials from sounding unnecessary warnings and placing curbs over vegetables and fruits supplied there, citing unfounded suspicion.
Vaithilingam also observed that only five of 117 samples procured from districts supplying produce to Kerala were found to have pesticide residue.Tests conducted between May 16 and 20 at a facility at the Tiruchy airport had shown that in just 20 kilos out of 84,522 kg of vegetables there was pest attack but no presence of pesticide toxicity.