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熱門: 蔡阿嘎 韓失業率 小嫻

「食」在難安:尋求便宜食物 印度民眾難逃農藥威脅

立報/本報訊 2013.07.31 00:00
策劃、編譯■劉耘、實習編譯王予彤

你可曾想過,便宜食物的背後究竟隱藏多少隱形代價?劇毒農藥、毫無保障的加工食品、生態浩劫……

數不盡的問題和糧食短缺,為便宜食物的時代畫下句點,

消費者該開始思考的是, 安全無虞並保障生產者及土地的食品,價值有多少?

大約10年前,印度政府明令禁止製造和使用亞素靈。就在7月,這種劇毒農藥在一所受政府計畫贊助而提供免費午餐的村落小學,奪走23名學童性命。

雖然世界衛生組織已將亞素靈歸類為高度危險的農藥,製造商仍說服政府專家,說亞素靈比其他農藥便宜,在對付那些害作物產量減少的害蟲上也更有效。

比起世上其他國家,印度有更多飢餓人口等著被填飽,而印度也持續使用亞素靈及其他劇毒農藥,但這些農藥在其他不論貧窮或富有的國家(包括中國),都基於健康因素而遭禁用。

■柬埔寨金邊一位農夫扛著秧苗走在水稻田中,圖攝於2013年7月11日。(圖文/路透)

雖然印度政府辯稱,這些劇毒農藥若是處理得當,帶來的益處會多過危害,但這場食物中毒的校園悲劇仍突顯出輿論批評,說實際上對農藥的控管幾乎都被忽視。

根據印度政府專門控管農藥的部門「印度農藥暨註冊委員會」於2004年會議紀錄,他們總結:「該產業所提供的數據能消弭各界的疑慮,因此無須對這項產品提出禁令。」

農業氣象部網站的紀錄顯示,在比哈省發生校園悲劇數星期前,印度政府還透過簡訊建議農人使用亞素靈來消除桔類和稻米中的螟蟲。

為壓低成本 選用劇毒農藥

「這符合成本效益,其效用也為人所知;有些甚至稱它為仁慈的農藥。」印度農業研究委員會負責農作物保護的副局長拉曾德蘭說:「我敢說,只要在使用時按照說明書和指示,國內目前允許的農藥在提供時都是安全的。我們提供詳盡的指示,使用者須遵照指示使用。」

一位直接參與農藥使用決策過程的高層官員說:「你必須理解,所有農藥都是有毒的,但這是維持或增加農業產量的必需。我們能承受15%到25%的產量損失嗎?沒有人能承擔得起如此高比例的農業損失。審慎使用才是解決之道。」這位官員拒絕公開他的身分。

在這起校園悲劇中,警方懷疑用來烹調孩童午餐的食用油被存放於使用過後的亞素靈空罐中。

印度政府在提供農藥時也發布了15頁需遵守規範,包括噴灑時須穿著防護衣並配戴口罩等。使用後,農藥空瓶應砸破,不應丟在戶外,避免容器被重複使用。

但在印度12億人口中,有4分之1不識字,且大多居住在難以到達的鄉村地區,要確保民眾遵守規範根本不可能。例如,亞素靈禁用於蔬菜作物,但完全沒有方法能保證此規定被確實遵守。

據世界衛生組織,人類吞下1千2百毫克,也就是不到一茶匙的亞素靈,就可能致命。因為含有劇毒,世衛於2009年呼籲印度禁用這項產品。

印度政府則直接拒絕回應世衛的研究結果:「我們做決定時,必須以我們的需求、首要任務及必要條件為主要考量。沒人能比我們自己更清楚這些。」政府消息來源表示。

對印度來說,國家首要之務是提供更多食物給他們的人民。據世界銀行,印度有4億人每天僅靠不到1.25美元(約新台幣38元)生活,近半數5歲以下孩童營養不良。

比哈省這所發生學童喪命的學校參加了政府的午餐計劃,這項計劃的目標是提供免費午餐給1億2千萬名學童,達到提供營養和鼓勵就學的功效。印度也將展開一項野心勃勃的計劃,要提供便宜食物給8億人口。這些計劃的重點,將是提高農作物產量並控制成本。

根據政府官員和製造商,亞素靈不但廉價,適用範圍也很廣,僅有4或5種特定作物或害蟲的農藥能取代;其他類似的農藥都貴很多。

由葛德瑞吉工業子公司「葛德瑞吉阿格維公司」所販售的亞素靈,一罐5百毫升售價225盧比(約新台幣113元),另一個選項是由拜耳製造的益達胺,一罐5百毫升就要價1,271盧比(約新台幣636元)。許多國家禁用亞素靈,包括美國、歐盟國、中國、和印度的鄰國巴基斯坦。斯里蘭卡只允許椰子農使用亞素靈。

農藥控管情形糟糕

印度向來不願禁用農藥。根據世衛的分級法,亞素靈並不是這個國家裡最毒的農藥。福瑞松、甲基巴拉松、撲滅鼠和福賜米松都被歸類為高度危險,但在印度一樣可合法註冊使用。

安殺番則是一種毒性極強,以至於讓聯合國想全面消除它的農藥,也是直到2011年才被印度最高法院禁用。這個決議是在南印克勒拉省省長(最高民選官員)絕食抗議一整天後數週才產生。

據媒體報導,在克勒拉省的加瑟勒戈德區,不分區大面積噴灑安殺番造成逾1千人死亡,數百人出生時四肢不全。根據政府最新資訊,印度對亞素靈的生產和需求,在2009到2010年時要比2005到2006年時更多。亞素靈在2009到2010年占了農藥使用量的4%,生產量的7%。

一個印度主要的環境非政府組織「科學暨環境中心」表示,印度對農藥的控管情形非常糟,而那些(農藥)公司有相當大的影響力。

「實際情況極糟,十分令人失望。」該組織食物安全和毒物部門的專案經理庫拉納說:「人們仍不知道農藥適當的使用量,或是哪種農藥該用於哪種作物。對農夫影響力最大的是(農藥)公司銷售代表。」

政府試著引入「能更有效控管農藥進口、製造、出口、銷售、運送、分配和使用」的法規,但這項法案自2008年起就卡在議會。

印度對於農藥的危險並不陌生。除了每年成千上萬人因而死亡,印度也在1984年時遭遇世上最嚴重的工業災難:博帕爾市一座農藥工廠外洩出致命的異氰酸甲酯氣,造成4,500人死亡。但在印度鄉村的農田中,仍有許多人仍繼續使用亞素靈這類農藥。 (路透)

Nearly a decade ago, the Indian government ruled out a ban on the production and use of monocrotophos, the highly toxic pesticide (1) that killed 23 children this month in a village school providing free lunches under a government-sponsored program.

Despite being labeled highly hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO), a panel of government experts was persuaded by manufacturers that monocrotophos was cheaper than alternatives and more effective in controlling pests that decimate (2) crop output.

India, which has more hungry mouths to feed than any other country in the world, continues to use monocrotophos and other highly toxic pesticides that rich and poor nations alike, including China, are banning on health grounds.

Although the government argues the benefits of strong pesticides outweigh the hazards if properly managed, the school food poisoning tragedy underlined criticism such controls are virtually ignored on the ground.

According to the minutes, the 2004 meeting conducted by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, the Indian government body that regulates pesticide use, concluded that: "The data submitted by the industry satisfies the concerns raised...Therefore, there is no need to recommend the ban of this product."

Just weeks before the school tragedy in Bihar state, the Indian government advised farmers via text message to use monocrotophos to kill borer pests in mandarin fruits and rice, records on the agricultural meteorology division's web site show.

"It is cost effective and it is known for its efficacy ... some even call it a benevolent pesticide," said T. P. Rajendran, assistant director general for plant protection at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. "I can say that pesticides currently permitted in the country are safe provided they are used as per specifications and guidelines. We have exhaustive (3) and detailed guidelines. They need to be followed."

A senior official directly involved in the decision-making on pesticide use said: "You have got to understand that all pesticides are toxic but they are essential for maintaining or increasing agricultural production.

"Can we afford to lose 15-25 percent of output? One cannot afford to lose such a large percentage of agricultural produce. The answer lies in judicious use." The official declined to be identified.

In the school tragedy, police suspect the children's lunch was cooked in oil that was stored in a used container of monocrotophos.

The Indian government has issued 15 pages of regulations that need to be followed when handling pesticides - including wearing protective clothing and using a respirator (4) when spraying. Pesticide containers should be broken when empty and not left outside in order to prevent them being re-used.

But in a nation where a quarter of the 1.2 billion population is illiterate and vast numbers live in far-flung rural districts, implementation is almost impossible. For instance, monocrotophos is banned for use on vegetable crops, but there is no way to ensure the rule is followed.

According to the WHO, swallowing 1,200 milligrams - less than a teaspoon - of monocrotophos can be fatal to humans. In 2009, it called for India to ban the product because of its extreme toxicity.

Indian government officials refuse to address the WHO's findings directly. "We have to take decisions depending on our need, our priorities, and our requirements. No one knows these things better than us," said the government source.

For India, providing more food to its people is a national priority. According to the World Bank, nearly 400 million people in the country live on less than $1.25 per day. Nearly half its children under five are malnourished.

The Bihar school where the children died was participating in the government's midday meal program, aimed at giving 120 million school pupils a free lunch - both providing nutrition and encouraging education. India is also close to implementing an ambitious plan to provide cheap food to 800 million people. Central to these efforts will be higher crop yields and managing costs.

According to government officials and manufacturers, monocrotophos is cheap and is also a broad spectrum pesticide that can only be replaced by four or five crop- or pest-specific pesticides. Even similar pesticides are much more expensive.

A 500 ml monocrotophos bottle sold by Godrej Agrovet, a subsidiary of Godrej Industries, is priced at 225 rupees ($3.75), while an alternative, Imidacloprid, in a bottle of 500 ml produced by Bayer, costs 1,271 rupees.

Monocrotophos is banned by many countries, including the United States, the European Union nations, China, and, among India's neighbors, Pakistan. Sri Lanka only allows monocrotophos use for coconut cultivation.

Historically, India appears reluctant to ban pesticides. Monocrotophos isn't the most toxic pesticide used in the country, according to the WHO's classifications. Phorate, methyl parathion, bromadiolone and phosphamidon, all classified as extremely hazardous (5), are likewise registered for use.

And endosulfan - a substance so nasty the United Nations wants it eliminated worldwide - was banned only by a Supreme Court order in 2011. The decision came a few months after the chief minister of the southern state of Kerala, the top elected official, went on a day-long hunger fast to demand the ban.

According to media reports, over 1,000 people were killed and hundreds born deformed because of indiscriminate aerial spraying of endosulfan in Kasargod, a Kerala district.

Both production of monocrotophos and demand in India was higher in 2009/10 than in 2005/06, according to latest available government data. It accounted for about 4 percent of total pesticide use in 2009/10 and 7 percent of production.

The Centre for Science and Environment, a leading environmental NGO in India, says the state of pesticide control in the country is deplorable and companies have great influence.

"The story on the ground is abysmal, it's very disappointing," said Amit Khurana, program manager in the CSE's food safety and toxins unit. "People still do not know how much of pesticide is to be used, which pesticide is to be used for which crop. The biggest influence for a farmer is the sales representative of the company"

The government has tried to introduce legislation for "more effective regulation of import, manufacture, export, sale, transport, distribution and use of pesticides" but the bill has languished in parliament since 2008.

India is no stranger to the dangers of pesticides. Besides the thousands killed each year, the country suffered the world's worst industrial disaster when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant in the city of Bhopal in 1984, killing nearly 4,500 people. But in the fields of rural India, pesticides like monocrotophos continue to be widely used.(Reuters)

關鍵字詞

1.pesticide(n.)農藥

2.decimate(v.)大量摧毀

3.exhaustive(a.)詳盡的

4.respirator(n.)口罩

5.hazardous(a.)危險的

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