Newspapers have often explained the presence of insecticides and pesticides on our food and its effect on humans in the long run. The infamous 'rail farms' of Mumbai - farms located alongside railway tracks where food is grown using drain water - has often made it to top news in our papers. However, not much is done in this regard. Until now! The eighth episode of Satyamev Jayate shall hopefully change things around as it created a tremendous impact with the startling facts and reports. Definitely one of the most hard-hitting episodes of Satyamev Jayate!
The jolt comes in the beginning itself when Dr Rashmi Sanghi revealed that the poisonous endosulfan was present in breast milk of certain mothers and that too, believe it or not, 800% more than the permissible limit! Obviously, the toxins made their way into the mother's body through the food she consumed - fruits, vegetables, food grains etc - which is deemed 'nutritious'! If the consumers are suffering, what about the farmers who grow these crops and also live near their farms? Aamir Khan then exposed the problems faced by inhabitants at Kasargod, Kerela where pesticides was sprayed on crops for 25 long years resulting in some of the most shocking cases among the inhabitants. Children were born with deformed limbs, eyes, cerebral palsy etc while the others suffered from chronic diseases, regular miscarriages (some women reportedly suffered it as many as 10 times) and even cancer. The culprit - endosulfan.
In the northern part of the country, a passenger train runs from Bhatinda, Punjab to Bikaner, Rajasthan and is regularly boarded by sick farmers affected by the use of pesticides and who get cheap treatment in Rajasthan. Majority of the victims suffer from cancer and hence the name 'Cancer Train'. Both these instances have been widely reported by newspapers across the country but sadly didn't make an impact at all on governments and general public.
Many farmers that were interviewed revealed that they don't use any toxins on a portion of farm land and use the food grown there for themselves and their families! The rest of the production, where toxins were sprayed, is sold to the dealers which make their way to our markets! A question that arises is - how will we protect the crops and plantations from pests if pesticides are not sprayed on them? How will our productivity increase, especially when our population is growing day by day? This was also echoed by Rajju Shroff who runs United Phosphorus Ltd, the largest pesticide company in India. However, he went on to claim that pesticide is indispensible and without its use, farmers might even commit suicide! He made many more such claims, which led Aamir to break into an unexpected guffaw, the first in these eight episodes! Also, this was the first time that disagreement cropped up between guests on the shows and even argued to prove their point.
Shroff's points were obviously baseless and this was expected since he ran the biggest pesticide establishment and couldn't speak against its use. However, Aamir wonderfully proved that our food can be grown sans harmful toxins. Dr G V Ramanjaneyelu from Hyderabad explained his work in villages of Andhra Pradesh wherein crops were successfully grown without pesticides. The pesticides cost a bomb but Dr Ramanjaneyelu's Non-Pesticide Management (NPM) products cost as little as Rs 5-15! Towards the north-east, the state of Sikkim has put a ban on the pesticides and is in many ways the 'first organic state of the country'. In both Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim, productivity didn't suffer. Same goes for Kasargod, where endosulfan was banned in 2000 after which, production remained the same and health problems among the inhabitants too subsided.
Sadly, awareness about NPM is negligible in our country. Subsidies need to be implemented on organic farming and use of insecticides need to be stopped on an immediate basis. There's anyways enough stress and other kinds of pollution that is harming us. We don't want our foods to be harmful as well. Let's all raise a voice!