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

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.