JPC On Pesticides In Soft Drinks To Cover Milk, Tea And Juices Too

New Delhi, September 16: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
At its first meeting, the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to probe allegations of high levels of pesticides in soft drinks has decided to have three full-time advisors to guide the committee on the technical aspects of the issue.

The 15-member committee headed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has also invited various parties including the ministries of food processing, agriculture and health; APEDA; Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to make their presentations on the issue on October 9, when the JPC is scheduled to hold its second meeting.

Giving details about the deliberations of its first meeting, Mr Pawar said that even though the probe as per the terms of the reference would cover all beverages including milk, tea and juices, the topmost priority of the probe would be to decide the method of detection of pesticide contamination and the permissible quantity in all beverages.

Everything has some level of pesticide residue in it but the issue is to set a limit as to how much can be a health hazard, he argued. The JPC will also study the cost implication of the new standards.

The three specialists to be associated with the JPC have been identified as Dr SK Khanna, former head of Toxicological Research Centre, Mr G Thiagarajan, former head of Centre for Science & Technology Development and Dr NK Agnihotri, formerly with Agriculture & Industrial Research Institute.

Earlier, the JPC members were briefed with the methodology and other technical terms by two veteran scientists Dr R Mashelkar and Dr V Prakash who gave presentations from two laboratories.

The JPC was set up last month to probe the report of CSE which had claimed that a high percentage of pesticide residues was present in Coca Cola, Pepsi and ten other soft drink brands.

As per the terms of reference, the JPC has to report whether the recent findings of the CSE regarding pesticide residues in soft drinks are correct or not, and suggest criteria for evolving suitable safety standards for soft drinks, fruit juice and other beverages where water is the main constituent.

The JPC comprises 10 Lok Sabha members and five from Rajya Sabha. Besides Mr Pawar, Lok Sabha members in the committee include Ananth Kumar and Sudha Yadav (BJP), Ramesh Chennithala and Avtar Singh Bhadana (Congress), K Yerranaidu (TDP), E Ahmed (TDP), Ranjit Kumar Panja (Trinamool Congress), Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Anil Basu (CPI-M). Rajya Sabha members are: SS Ahluwalia (BJP), Prithviraj Chauhan (Congress), Sanjay Nirupam (Shiv Sena), Prem Chand Gupta (RJD) and Prasanta Chatterjee (CPI-M).

Except for Mr Prem Chand Gupta (RJD), the first JPC meeting was attended by all.