Skip to main content

Hazardous pesticides in tea: MNC Uniliver, Modi favourite Tatas, top Gujarat brand Wagh Bakri blamed

By Our Representative
An investigation carried out by top international environmental NGO Greenpeace has found “residues of hazardous chemical pesticides” in a majority of samples of the main brands of packaged tea produced and consumed in India, including MNC Uniliver subsidiary, India’s powerful business group Tatas, and Gujarat's favourite tea brand Wagh Bakri. “Over half of the samples contained pesticides that are ‘unapproved’ for use in tea cultivation or which were present in excess of recommended limits”, a Greenpeace report, based on research carried out by its team in India, insisted.
The Greenpeace report, titled “Trouble Brewing: Pesticide Residues in Tea Samples in India”, points out, “The results indicate that the cultivation of tea in India continues to rely on of the use of a diverse range of pesticides, consistent with previous analyses of pesticide residues in tea produced in India.” It adds, “Dependency on pesticides is an inherent part of the current system of industrial agriculture and in the cultivation of tea in other countries, as shown in a similar report on Chinese tea published by Greenpeace in 2012”.
Suggesting why there is reason for the report should be of global concern, the report says, “India is the second largest producer and the fourth largest exporter of tea globally, with the marketing and sales of tea forming a multi-billion dollar market (estimated at US$40.7 billion) both domestically, and globally. Within India, the top two brands – Hindustan Unilever Limited, subsidiary of the global multinational company Unilever, and Tata Global Beverages Limited – share upwards of 50 percent of the market.”
Greenpeace collected a total of 49 branded and packaged tea samples. “These were purchased between June 2013 and May 2014 from retail outlets in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata and were sent to an independent accredited laboratory to be tested for the presence of over 350 different pesticides. The samples cover eight of the top eleven companies which dominate the branded tea market in India. These include well-known brands produced by Hindustan Unilever Limited, Tata Global Beverages Limited, Wagh Bakri Tea, Goodricke Tea, Twinings, Golden Tips, Kho-Cha and Girnar”, the report says.
“A total of 34 pesticides were found, with 46 samples of branded tea – or 94% - containing residues of at least one pesticide. 59% (29 of the samples) contained ‘cocktails’ of more than 10 different pesticides, including one sample which contained residues of 20 different pesticides. 59% (29) of the samples also contained residues of at least one pesticide active ingredient above the Maximum Residue Levels set by the EU (EU-MRL), with 37% (18) of the tea samples exceeding these levels by more than 50%”, the report states.
The report regrets, “The chaotic and conflicting state of regulations in India regarding authorisation of pesticides makes it extremely difficult to draw clear conclusions. However, 68% of the 34 pesticides found in the various samples appear not to be registered for use in cultivation of tea.”
Greenpeace’s specific examples include:
· Monocrotophos, a suspected mutagen and neurotoxicant, found in 27 samples across tea brands made by various companies including Tata, Hindustan Unilever, Kho Cha, Royal Girnar, Goodricke, Wagh Bakri and Golden Tips. This pesticide is not approved for use on tea and is classified as Highly Hazardous (Class Ib) by the World Health Organisation.
· Triazophos, another unapproved toxic pesticide, was found in five samples (in tea brands made by Tata, Hindustan Unilever, and Wagh Bakri). This pesticide is also classified as Highly Hazardous (Class Ib) by the World Health Organization (WHO).
· Tebufenpyrad, which is not registered in India, and therefore illegal, was found in one sample manufactured by Hindustan Unilever. Tebufenpyrad is a potential liver toxicant at high concentrations.
· DDT: The results also showed the presence of the pesticide DDT, banned for use in agriculture in India since 1989, as well as a significant number of pesticides classified as Moderately Hazardous according to WHO. These included Cypermethrin, classified as a respiratory irritant, and the neonicotinoid insecticide Imidacloprid has shown the potential to cause reproductive or developmental impacts in animals. All three of these pesticides were found in 60% or more of the samples.
· Neonicotinoid insecticides were present in a large proportion of samples (for example, Thiacloprid at 67.3% and Thiamethoxam at 78%), which may indicate that these relatively new entrants to the agrochemical market are becoming insecticides of choice in tea cultivation, and that tea production is still firmly stuck on the industrial pesticide treadmill.
Greenpeace says, “The results indicate that the cultivation of tea in India continues to depend on a large number of chemicals with proven adverse effects on the environment and human health. Companies purchasing and selling tea in India and other key stakeholders in the industry need to act urgently to ensure the protection of the environment and of human health. Such changes will require strong supportive policies to ensure the tea sector as a whole, including small tea growers, can shift rapidly away from the use of these chemical pesticides and thereby avoid the associated hazards.”
It adds, “The tea sector needs to become aware of ecological agriculture systems which already exist and to apply the same principles in tea cultivation. Ecological agriculture techniques could prove to be both a sound business choice for the tea sector as well as a global market leadership opportunity for any given tea brand. The tea industry needs to take responsibility for existing problems to make a commitment to their consumers that they can trust that tea production will not contaminate the environment or expose consumers to hazardous pesticide residues, from crop to cup.”

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”