Thursday 20 June 2019

Deadly pesticide found in food that killed 15

 

In a 2009 report, the UN health agency urged India to ban the pesticide, as the US, European Union and various other Asian nations have done (stock picture)
In a 2009 report, the UN health agency urged India to ban the pesticide, as the US, European Union and various other Asian nations have done (stock picture)

Rahul Singh

A toxic pesticide that a UN agency wanted India to ban a decade ago contaminated food that killed at least 15 people at a temple last week, police said yesterday.

More than 100 people also had to go to hospital after devotees consumed portions of tomato rice blessed at the Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

A senior police officer told Reuters laboratory tests showed the presence of monocrotophos - a pesticide which attacks the nerves - in food and vomit samples.

"We are trying to find out how the food got contaminated and not ruling out foul play. We have detained a few people and are enquiring further," said Chamrajnagar district police superintendent Dharmender Kumar Meena, without specifying the number of arrests.

The same pesticide was responsible for the death of 23 schoolchildren in the eastern state of Bihar in 2013, one of India's worst mass poisonings.

That was caused by cooking oil kept in a container previously used to store monocrotophos.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), swallowing just 120mg of monocrotophos - the weight of about five grains of rice - can be fatal.

In a 2009 report, the UN health agency urged India to ban the pesticide, as the US, European Union and various other Asian nations have done.

But India plans to continue allowing its use in non-vegetable crops because it is effective and cheaper than alternatives, said a senior government official.

Irish Independent

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