New Delhi : A parliamentary panel has accused government enforcement agencies of turning a blind eye to fake organic products that are sold in the domestic food market and have also drawn complaints from the European Union and the US.
The parliamentary committee on estimates said today it had recommended “stringent punishment” for entities involved in sales and export of fake organic products, but is “unhappy” with the response it has received from the Union agricultural ministry.
The panel said it had been informed about 25 complaints India had received from the EU and the US between 2012 and 2014 related to the detection of pesticides in consignments exported from India or labelling issues.
In its response, the panel said, the agriculture ministry has merely stated various laws governing marketing of farm produce and food safety regulations in place to deter fake organic produce from entering the market.
Either enforcement agencies are hand in glove with the producers of fake organic products or there is a great laxity on their part in checking and detecting fake organic produce flooding the market,” the panel said in its report.
Two years ago, a crop care industry association had similarly accused India’s food safety regulatory agency of allowing organic food products to be marketed in India through false claims. The Crop Care Federation of India had sent a notice to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, charging the government with failure to regulate mislabelling of organic food products.
One industry estimate made in 2012 suggested the domestic market for organic food – from cereals and pulses to spices and vegetables – is growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually.
National organic production standards disallow the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. The Crop Care Federation had in 2015 released the findings of a survey by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, that had detected pesticides in several samples of organic produce.
In its report, the committee on estimates has iterated its earlier recommendation for stringent punishment to those involving in making, trading, or exporting fake organic produce, calling on enforcement agencies to “strictly enforce norms for checking and detecting fake organic products.”
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has supported the development of packages of organic farming for various crops under its Network Project on Organic Farming that is currently being implemented across 16 states.