Supreme Court Issues Notice to Government Ministries and FSSAI Over Excessive Pesticide Use: India

May 19, 2024

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding the excessive use of pesticides and chemical insecticides on food crops.

Health Risks Linked to Pesticide Use

The writ petition, filed by environmentalist and lawyer Akash Vashishtha, highlights the government’s inefficiency in curbing the rampant use of these substances, which is leading to numerous health issues and deaths across the country.

Senior advocate Anitha Shenoy, representing the petitioner, presented data showing a significant number of deaths attributed to pesticide consumption. “There is an abject failure of the FSSAI to curb and control pesticides and ensure food safety. There is a direct scientific and medical correlation between pesticides and cancers, which are on the rise,” Shenoy stated in court.

Broader Impacts of Food Pollution

The petition underscores the severe health risks associated with pesticide-laden foods, including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac arrests. Vashishtha pointed out that this food pollution extends through bio-accumulation and bio-magnification, adversely impacting the human body. Data from FSSAI revealed that in 2015-16 alone, 22.25% of food samples did not meet safety standards, with little improvement in subsequent years.

Despite repeated appeals to the government and the Prime Minister’s office, no substantial action has been taken. The petition demands stricter measures to curb the use of pesticides and protect public health.

Government’s Response on Food Safety Standards

In response, the Union Health Ministry stated that India maintains stringent standards for Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of pesticides, tailored for different food commodities based on risk assessments. The FSSAI continuously revises its MRLs based on the latest scientific data and international norms, indicating a proactive, albeit slow, approach to improving food safety standards in India.

This significant court intervention aims to address the critical issue of food contamination and ensure better health outcomes for the population.

Share this:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter