Activists promoting organic farming have drawn attention to the dangers of the intensive use of chemical fertilizers that are polluting water bodies and entering the food chain.
While welcoming the nation-wide attention to the presence of lead and other chemicals beyond permissible limits in Maggi noodles, they said that this was only one aspect of food contamination.
“But there is a far greater threat from chemically intensive agriculture which the public remains oblivious to,” they said. They highlighted the intensive application of chemicals and herbicides to cultivate ginger in H.D. Kote and other places in Mysuru.
Vivek Cariappa, an organic farmer based in Sargur, said that huge quantities of chemical fertilizers and herbicides are used and the run-off from the soil enters water bodies.
“The chemically-rich water enters lakes and the Kabini or the Cauvery and is harmful to aquatic creatures. The same water is the major source of drinking water for both Bengaluru and Mysuru and poses health hazards, unless there is strict monitoring and regulation of ginger cultivation close to water bodies and forest boundaries,” said Mr. Cariappa.
“While the current outrage over lead in Maggi noodles is understandable, it should also be an eye-opener to the kind of poison that is entering the human food chain through chemical-intensive agricultural practices,” said Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samrudha, an organisation promoting organic and natural farming.
There is unbridled use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides in the Mysuru-Mandya belt and the run-off from fields are contributing to the eutrophication of water bodies. “But no study has been done to assess the chemical content in them or aquatic creatures that are consumed as food and this could be more dangerous,” he added.
Bt Cotton
Besides Bt Cotton, which requires extensive application of chemical fertilizers, tobacco and ginger are also cultivated in Mysuru district. Along with paddy, sugarcane and maize, they require generous use of chemicals and fertilizers.
The vegetable growth facilitated by the diversion of sewage water also needs to be tested in laboratory for contamination, said Mr. Krishnaprasad.
In H.D. Kote, once a bastion for organic cotton, the introduction of Bt cotton virtually killed the former and contaminated organic farms as there was no buffer between them and agricultural farms promoting genetically modified crops. The introduction of ginger cultivation a few years ago has only aggravated the contamination level of the existing few organic farms, according to Mr. Cariappa.