As I write this article today, the world celebrates International Food Safety Day.
Too often we fall short of the idea of adequate food and the safety of this food.
This day helps to remind us to not only produce food but also eat food that is healthy and free from risky substances that can endanger human health.
This is not a cause that should be driven by farmers or lobbyists but by the consumer community.
Most of us consumers pay more attention to quantity per shilling of food than quality.
We run through a supermarket chain that is only interested in getting the best deal as opposed to the best quality.
However, some consumer communities are turning their backs on the status quo.
I have been informed of consumers in Nyeri County, Kenya who insist on knowing the practices used to grow crops before purchasing them.
This habit needs to spread and influence all of us.
We should not only ask where our food is from but how it is cultivated.
Are pesticides used?
If yes, are they approved?
If approved are they safe?
In other words, our campaign should not focus on the goal that it is to ensure that the food we buy is safe.
There are several aspects of food security:
Pesticides… what do you have?
But to write this, we will consider pesticides and why their residue levels in the food we eat matter.
Pesticides are a unique class of chemicals because they are manufactured to destroy life…
The life of dangerous insects.
They help us as farmers to reduce the damage done to our crops.
But at what cost?
A unique class of insecticides known to resist degradation over time are classified as unfavorably persistent organic pollutants. (POP).
Although their use has been suppressed, their remains persist long after the ban in many countries.
These include lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, etc.
Such pesticides have left a lasting impact on the lives of insects around us.
Bees have been adversely affected.
But of greater concern is a class of insecticides that have gained prominence due to their lethality against insects.
Organophosphate insecticides are currently the most widely used because of their effectiveness.
But this effect diminishes after every season application due to emergence of resistant insects.
This means that farmers must use insecticides more potent than the ones they used from season to season earlier.
This will not only affect their soil and environment but also the quality of their produce.
maximum residue level
Organophosphate insecticides such as chlorpyrifos are not only indiscriminately lethal, but long-term exposure (even at minute levels) can occur. Reproduction health problems.
This is why the maximum residue level (the maximum permissible level of pesticide residue in the harvested produce) is a matter of concern with regard to food security.
A joint research by the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (koan) And the eco-track shows a related trend of pesticide residue levels in our food.
Tomatoes, maize and cabbage obtained from several markets in Kenyan counties showed significant residue levels of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) such as chlorpyrifos.
The outlook of the situation across the country can give a grim picture.
Pesticides are useful for guaranteeing good agricultural yield.
If they can be used under strict guidelines, then we can be in a safe place.
But the truth is that pesticide abuse is common rather than the exception.
This puts our health at risk, communities are at risk.
Although food is plentiful, much of it can be too risky for us to consume in the long term.
Maybe it’s organic farming…
Maybe there’s a case for IPM strategies that work…
Perhaps there is a case for sustainable agriculture.
Anyhow, for us to protect the generations to come, business as usual attitude a. should be replaced by business unusual One.
Food security must precede food security.
Urban farmers interested in environmental pollution prevention. Currently a part time lecturer. Also published on Smart Water Magazine: https://smartwatermagazine.com/blogs/john-mmbaga
See all posts by John Mambaga
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