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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Pesticide scam: Another sample fails quality test

Pesticide scam: Another sample fails quality test

Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service
Moga, April 14

The Moga pesticide scam has further deepened with laboratory evidences now coming to the surface regarding the failure of an insecticide manufactured and marketed by Bayer Crop Science Limited, the world’s premier pesticide manufacturing and marketing company.

According to a copy of an official document of the state agriculture department, one sample of ‘Pencycuron’, an insecticide, manufactured and marketed by Bayer has failed the quality tests done in a government laboratory.

A senior official department said that ‘Pencycuron’ insecticide in actual contains 22.9 per cent chemical composition of pencycuron, but during laboratory tests in a Punjab government laboratory this chemical was found to be just 17.30 per cent, which in simple arithmetic calculations mean that the insecticide sample in total contained about 25 per cent impurities. Or, in other words, its efficiency was 25 per cent less as compared to the actual product.

The state agriculture department has issued a show-cause notice to the Bayer Company and sought a reply within 15 days failing which legal action could be initiated against it.

The Head of the Communications department of Bayer Crop Science Limited Saswati Panigrahi while talking to The Tribune admitted that a sample of ‘Pencycuron’ has failed the quality test in a state government laboratory.

She said, “The sample of Pencycuron 22.9 % w/w SC was drawn by the local Insecticides Inspector in Moga. Bayer tested a control sample of Pencycuron 22.9 % w/w SC of the same batch at its own laboratory. Our internal report confirmed that the sample complied with the required specifications.”

However, she admitted that as per a communiqué sent by the agriculture department to the Bayer Company on April 12, 2019 a report of the Regional Pesticides Testing Laboratory, Chandigarh, has termed this sample as ‘misbranded’.

Further, Saswati Panigrahi said the sample of this insecticide was drawn on August 24, 2018 while the Regional Pesticides test report is dated March 25, 2019. During this period, the Bayer Company did not receive any notice from the government authorities.

“We have always collaborated with the local authorities on such proceedings and will continue to adhere to their process,” she maintained.

On behalf of the Bayer Company, she claimed, “All Bayer products go through rigorous testing to ensure the highest standards of product quality and efficacy. As per Section 24 of the Insecticides Act, 1968, we will send the sample for re-analysis at the Central Insecticides Laboratory (CIL), Faridabad. We are confident that the sample will be cleared by CIL and the authorities will give adequate clearances on this matter.”

It may be mentioned that recently the officials of the state agriculture department claimed that ‘Fame’, a pesticide (insecticide), marketed by the Bayer Company had failed the quality tests. This pesticide was manufactured at Saraswati Agro Chemicals India Private Limited, Dera Bassi (Punjab).

No matter, the authorities of Bayer Company had claimed that the bottles of ‘Fame’ seized by the agriculture department did not match with their batch numbers, but taking it seriously the state government had got registered an FIR under Section 420 of the IPC and Sections 3K-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 13 read with rule 10(4), 17, 18, 29, 33 of the Insecticides Act, 1968, and Sections 19, 20 of the Insecticides Rules, 1971, at Dharamkot police station in the district.

The FIR has been registered against Gurwinder Singh, proprietor of Nambardar Kheti Store, Badduwal, Moga district, from whom spurious pesticide bottles of ‘Fame’ were recovered by the agriculture department. The role of Bayer Company and Saraswati Agro Chemicals India Private Limited was under scanner in due course of the investigations, claimed a senior police officer of the Moga district.

CM for tough action against spurious pesticides

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who also holds the portfolio of agriculture and horticulture departments, has issued instructions to all the agriculture and horticulture development officers to keep strict watch on the pesticide trade and to book companies/traders found selling spurious or substandard pesticides as per provisions of law.

Claiming that tough action would be taken against the companies/traders found selling misbranded products, the CM advised the officials of agriculture and horticulture departments to deliver their legitimate duties to the best satisfaction of the farmers. “We need to put complete check on sale of spurious pesticides/insecticides because it may harm economic interests of the farming community,” he said.

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