I n the din of claims and counter-claims about the cola controversy in India, an important dimension related to regulation of pesticide industry in India needs scrutiny. The Agricultural Promotion Group (representative of the Rs.2,500 crore pesticide industry) reasoned that the levels of pesticides in different colas are not known to scientifically harm the human body. "Our day begins with chemicals (toothpaste), and like many chemicals, pesticides are also useful to us. It is only when they exceed a certain value that they harm," said Salil Singhal, Group Chairman.
Whatever the merit of these claims, the pesticide regulation in India needs to be updated. The Central Insecticides Act of 1968 (amended in 2000) contains a set of parameters to see that the industry does not operate outside its ambit. Every manufacturer, importer or distributor, is to be registered with the Central Insecticides Board with proper licensing. But implementation is tardy. The APG's claim, that they are the second-most regulated industry, will have more credibility if the spurious pesticide industry is examined.