Friday, April 15, 2011

Cabbage is nothing but, pesticide.

Thalavady is a hilly region suited for cultivation of many different varieties of vegetables in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. One of the important crops grown in this region is cabbage. Let us see how cabbage is grown here.
Small and marginal farmers who have less than two hectares of land are cultivating cabbage. The seeds come from Monsanto and Syngenta. About, 180 grams of seeds are needed for an acre. Seeds are sold in 10 grams pockets and these cost around Rs.220/ (around 6 Euros/ 5 US dollars).
Each year cabbage is cultivated on about 3000 acres. The Department of agriculture in Tamil Nadu has no clue about this crop cultivation in Thalavady and no technical support is provided to the farmers. Then who is giving technical advice to farmers? The seed and pesticides dealers are the advisors to the farmers. I spoke to few pesticide dealers to find out what is happening. 

10th day.
Ten days after sowing, 200 ml of insecticide Hostathian 40 EC[i] from Bayer along with 250 grams of Acephate[ii] are sprayed for an acre. Hostathian has a broad spectrum and is a highly toxic insecticide.
 Acephate is an organophosphate foliar insecticide of moderate persistence with residual systemic activity of about 10-15 days.

20th day
Insecticide Success 480 sc[iii]  from DOW Agro sciences 150 ml per acre.
According to DOW studies Success 480 sc ( Spinosad) is a kind of natural pesticide and does not contain high toxicity but, it is still harmful to environment. In this case, Spinosad is produced by fermentation of naturally occurring bacteria (Saccharpolyspora spinosa). There are no independent studies available to establish that this pesticide is safe.

35th day
Fame 480 sc– 45 ml per acre. ( From Bayer )
This pesticide contains Flubendiamide 39.35% m/m sc. No studies are available

50th day
Insecticide Proclaim from Syngenta[iv]  50 grams
Along with insecticide Pegaus 50 WP from Syngenta[v]  1750 grams.
Proclaim contains Emamectin Benzoate and produced by Syngenta. It is worth to note here that Syngenta’s own study says that certain crops should not be harvested for 8 weeks after application and live stocks should not be allowed to graze for 21 days. If this pesticide is sprayed on the 50th day or after, cabbage could be harvested on the 85th day or within a week after. So, consumers can consume these active residues of Proclaim from Syngenta. This insecticide is also very dangerous to fish and other aquatic organisms.
Pegaus 50 WP is a very dangerous pesticide for the environment. Pegaus contains the hazardous components of diafenthiuron, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), alpha-isotridecyl-omega-hydroxy-, formaldehyde . This is also very toxic to aquatic organisms, that may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. It is also toxic and harmful in all other respects like contact to skin, swallowing and inhalation of the substance.

70th day
Endosulphan 35 EC 500 ml[vi]
Profenophos 50 EC 500 ml
Both Endosulphon and Profenophos are very toxic pesticides which has dangerous effects on the environment and on human health. There is a strong campaign[vii] in India to ban Endosulphon.
85th day
Cabbage is harvested on 85th day or a within a week after 85th day.
All the above pesticides are very poisonous and harmful to environment and living beings. I have mentioned only about the pesticides. Farmers are spraying and trenching fungicides during the rainy season too or when they find the symptoms of the diseases.
Indian Institute of Horticulture Research(IIHR), a government of India’s central research institute has done some research on cabbage cultivation and found out inexpensive and organic methods to control pests. But, who is going to transfer these technologies to the farm fields? Moreover, farmers spray more pesticides when there is a good price for cabbage. The dealers also will advise the farmers to use more dosages citing the good price in the market. Integrated pest management (IPM) does not exist in Thalavady. And this is also the case in the neibouring Karnataka state.
Roughly around eighty percent of the inputs costs are directly transferred to multinational corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta , Bayer etc. from the resource poor farmers’ pockets. They are always the gainers and not the farmers.  Government should think of establishing the agro ecology practice and convert all the agriculture research towards farmers’ friendly and consumers friendly and ecologically sound practices.
It is really difficult to defeat these giant companies unless local resistance is built, at small farm level, by rejecting these harmful pesticides from the exploitive companies.
All Indian farmers are not educated and most of them are illiterates. The information in the label is available in English language only. So, it is difficult for the farmers to understand the contents and undertake precautions.  Normally farmers use knapsack sprayers and power sprayers to spray pesticides without using any mask or special dress to protect themselves from the pesticides. Pesticides are handled by the farmers by hand without gloves and wash their hands by using soap or soil.
I have narrated how pesticides are sprayed on cabbage. Farmers themselves eat cabbage and sell it to the market to feed the world. Farmers handle pesticides without any precaution and spray without even a mask. They literally inhale pesticide and inviting ill health. Pesticide companies, largely MNCs are counting their profit and  contributing damage to the environment and ill health to farmers and farm labourers.   I know stop eating cabbage is not going to help the situation. Agro ecology practice at each farm level will be the only solution.
Until then, I have stopped eating cabbage, because, it is nothing but, pesticide.


Anonymous said...

But what can one eat? That is my there anything left which is not controlled by MNC´s?

Anonymous said...

Yes - but you must become conscious, anonymous - grow your own food if you can; or make a deal with a farmer. For those who are interested in higher yields, no irrigation, richer soil every year, no pests, reducing over-all feeding cost and not spending a dime - or even using pesticide, fertilizer, fungicide - AND MAKE MONEY -


Anonymous said...

Great article Kannaiyan!
I didn't realize that even farmers of a small remote village like Thalavady were deeply caught up with Syngenta and Bayer..and that the ag university there is completely inactive! The state really needs to promote agro-ecology and strengthen the public research system.. even the dept of health needs to support agro-ecology.

And all consumers should atleast join one safe food group or another..there are so many out there. Ofcourse they can now buy organic food which is provided almost as cheap as chemical food. If we can spend 1000's on alcohol, cigarettes, cosmetics, clothes,,,then why can we spend a little more on safer food????

Sridhar said...

Wonderful field note Kannaiyyan. Thanks for alerting. I hope we will get more like this so we can all alert others, This is getting too much, and I hope the TN government wakes up to this disaster.

Meanwhile I have shared this with my civil society networks as well as the media in Kerala, as they are very alert on this issue.


Ananthoo said...

Nice one kannaiyan. Its a good decision to stop eating cabbages unless you can source organic ones. IMO cabbage and cauliflower are the veggies with maximum chemical infestation. BTW did you forget to mention about dipping the harvest one last time in even harsher chemicals prior to despatch to keep them looking "fresh" and "attractive" in the shelves?

Prithvi said...

HI Kannian, wonderful blog... But unfortunately... we cant do anything about it.. Unless we create some awareness... I am a part of chennai social service in chennai. Would like to meet you some day. I wil buzz u if i come to erode.. Or buzz me if you come to chennai.. Thanks, Prithviraj - 9841424349 -

Anonymous said...

Dear sir
you are right
could you able to give any practical solution for this? can we stop this ..and each and every food is like that only now new monster GM food ..animal gene in veg food..? what to do how can we make this idiotic and selfish people aware..where is the real problem..could you able to give a realtime solution..thanks for your article...

Natarajan said...


we are runninh after and for money. We never bothered others feelings. But by god's grace we live and alive for long.

Anonymous said...

thanks Sir,

I have alerted my circle of friends and relatives about this.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou very much for giving us this valuable and at times even life/health changing information.I have now completely switched over to organic vegetables and provisions,and only few months back I was not even aware of what was the term "organic" or that organic vegetables were even available in my city,but when that need and awareness came about I was pleasntly suprised to find that there were a number of organic shops nearby my house.I believe awareness about health ,pesticides ,preserving and caring for the earth and the shift of ones mindset will bring about change...