19 September, 2007
DIFFERENT agencies seem to have different results for the pesticide contamination levels. "When I asked the Department of Agriculture about pesticide contamination, they said it’s only 10 per cent," said Gurmit Singh, the executive director of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia."When I called the Ministry of Health, they told me it’s 30 per cent. If the contamination for farm level is low, how come the retail level is high?"This raises the question of whether the sampling methods are comparable."Gurmit said both agencies should adopt a common sampling method and publish the results in annual reports or on their websites."We can’t depend on research seminars and scare stories to emerge to get information."The agencies have more duty to the public than retailers. They are supposed to make sure the public is not poisoned."Gurmit, however, said not all nice-looking vegetables contained pesticide residues."Organic vegetables are fresh and don’t have holes. And vegetables with holes don’t mean they are not chemically treated. "Maybe the pesticide level is not high enough or the pests have become resistant."And when they are resistant, farmers will use a cocktail of pesticides. This will pose more risks to public health."The Ministry of Health could not be reached for comments.