Thiruvananthapuram: Tests at the pesticide residue research and analytical lab (PRRAL) of the College of Agriculture, Vellayani, have found "organic" capsicum, imported apple and grapes sold at a leading hypermarket in Kochi laced with new generation pesticides. Thanks to the liquid chromatograph – mass spectrometer (LC-MS) imported from the US, which costs Rs 2.3 crore, the scientists could link the banned pesticides with the vegetables and fruits sold at the hypermarket proclaiming to be pesticide free. A major hypermarket also showed the trend. Samples from both were collected during April – June 2017.
They were selling pesticide laced “organic” fruits and vegetables at a premium price. Tests at PRRAL are conducted as per internationally accepted protocols using modern equipment. The new machine, LC – MS/MS detected all the new generation pesticides much to the shock of the hypermarket owners that would have otherwise gone undetected.
“The results from the new LC-MS/MS indicated a regular spray schedule followed in remote farms or polyhouses in other states, using a cocktail of new generation insecticides and fungicides at close intervals to protect the crop,” said Prof. Thomas Biju Mathew, associate director (plant protection), and head of the lab. A sample of green capsicum purchased during June from a Kochi hypermarket was found contaminated five insecticides, acetamiprid (1.12 ppm), clothianidin (0.72 ppm), imidacloprid (0.69 ppm), buprofezin (0.12ppm), acephate (1.78 ppm) and two fungicides, tebuconazole (0.84 ppm ) and iprovalicarb (0.22 ppm) in the same packet sampled.
Another sample of baji chilli branded as “pesticide-free” contained three new generation insecticides, acetamiprid, metalaxyl and chlorantraniliprole. One sample of imported “red globe” variety grapes purchased from the same shop had four pesticides, imidacloprid (1.31 ppm), metalaxyl (0.57 ppm), azoxystrobin (1.12 ppm) and carbendazim (0.09 ppm). Red capsicum samples collected from a leading hypermarket at Kesavadasapuram contained imidacloprid, clothianidin, azoxystrobin, tebuconazole and carbendazim in the same sample. Baji chilli had residues of imidacloprid, carbofuran (banned in Kerala) and two fungicides, tebuconazole and trifloxystrobin.
Among the fruits collected from the same hypermarket, red globe (imported) variety grapes priced at above Rs 400/kg showed the presence of acetamiprid (0.39 ppm) and indoxacarb (0.04 ppm), while seedless green grapes had residues of three pesticides. A systemic organophosphate insecticide, dimethoate (0.67- 2.34 ppm) was detected in small onion and green chilli samples purchased during June from another shop in the state capital selling exclusively “organic” labelled products.