KOLLAM: Organising seminars, symposiums, lectures and speeches during important dates has become a new trend. Not surprisingly, the World Health Day which falls on Tuesday will be no exception. Various government agencies and private organisations would observe the day by organising walkathons, talks and seminars.
However, the moot question is whether these seminars and talks serve the desired purpose. On Tuesday, a seminar on foodborne disease is to be held in which problems related to food safety would be discussed.
According to Kerala University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor M K C Nair, it is time to go beyond discussions and talks.
“It is time to act. We just listen to the suggestions during discussions and seminars. But we don’t take any pain to implement it. In the case of foodborne diseases, it seems that people, including myself, are yet to stop consuming unhealthy food. It is something related to our mindset. If people still consume chemical-infected vegetables despite the news reports about its adverse affects it is because they are yet to take the issue seriously,” M K C Nair told ‘Express’.
He said that the use of pesticides by farmers in the neighbouring states should be viewed seriously by Keralites. Otherwise we will have to pay a heavy price for it in the long run, he said.
Nair however admitted that a comprehensive solution to the issue is difficult.
“There are no shortcuts to solving the issue. Chemicals are not only present in the outer layer of vegetables and fruits but also within the fruits and vegetables. When one looks from a commercial perspective, we can’t blame the farmer for spraying chemicals and pesticides on his products as his motive is to yield maximum profit.
The one and only way to restrict consumption of contaminated vegetables is to move towards self-sufficiency,” he said. M K C Nair also pointed out that a significant change had occurred in the consumption habits of Keralites. “Instead of tuber crops such as tapioca, yam and others, we prefer products such as capsicum from other states,” he said. Nair suggested that the only way to avoid consumption of contaminated vegetables is to raise a vegetable garden in every house.
He however said there is no guarantee that the vegetables cultivated in home gardens will be 100 per cent free of chemicals as air and water pollution has reached unprecedented levels. A study by the World Health Organisation’s Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group has found out that from 2010, there was an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne enteric diseases and 3,51,000 associated deaths. The deaths were caused due to the presence of Salmonella typhi, the bacteria causing typhoid fever; enteropathogenic E coli and norovirus.