If anyone goes to the fruit and vegetable markets in Bangladesh, he will find the items are alluring with nice color and growth, but most people are still unknown about hazards in these food items.
Farmers and traders of these items mix harmful chemicals for ripening the fruits and for growth of vegetables. They are doing it for lucrative purposes to earn more money, but do not think about health risk of others.
Mohammad Abdul Hye Mazumder, an environment expert, said poisonous chemicals have both short and long term harmful impact on human health and environment.
He said the traders and farmers mix up the chemicals containing organo chlorinate, mercury, lead and organo phosphate, which are used for killing pests or preserving and coloring vegetables.
These chemicals are also used in meat, oil, salt, spices and other food ingredients, he said. "The farmers and traders are using the chemicals for more production and more profit while the consumers have become the scapegoat of hazards."
Shabuddin, a fruit trader, said if the color of fruits is bad, customers will be hesitate to buy. He said they are not mixing up the chemicals in fruits, but whole sellers are doing it. "We are not aware how and what sort of chemicals are being mixed up in fruits. What we can say is that a fruit with good color fetches us more money."
A social thinker said it needs launching a social campaign to ensure safe food for the consumers.
"There is no alternative to launch a social movement to ensure safe and hygienic food for the people who are subject to health hazards due to injudicious use of poisonous chemicals and pesticides in food items, especially fruit and vegetable," said Ferdous Ahmed Qureshi, a politician and convenor of Safe Food Movement, a social organization.
"It is not a matter of political debate, but of the safety and existence of the people of Bangladesh," Qureshi said.
A non-governmental organization executive Farida Akhter said the political parties should play a big role in ensuring safe food for the people by incorporating the issue in their election manifestos.
"Apparently there is none to look after the real hazards of people. The government offices with the responsibility seems turned their blind eyes on the issue," Faria Akhter said.
Saiful Islam, a politician, said, "The government is conducting mobile courts regularly to check food adulteration, but it is inadequate to curb the adulteration and poisoning of food items." He said it is important to build mass awareness about the use of poisons in food.
Amid the grim picture of unsafe food marketing, a private organization showed a ray of hope to come out of the grave situation.
Sirajul Islam, an executive of the Agro Biotech Limited, said they are cultivating foodgrains and vegetables using "helping insects" instead of poisoning them.
"Without using pesticides and chemical fertilizer, we are able to produce more foodgrains and vegetables compared to the production using chemical fertilizers. Our production cost is also 42 percent less," he said.
Ferdous Ahmed Qureshi said the government alone cannot check adulteration and poisoning of food. People have to resist the practice.
He said scientific innovations and campaign are needed to ensure safe food for people.