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Agro-Chemicals Increase Cancer Cases In India: Myth Or Reality?

WHO did not mention any pesticide in its list of chemicals that have carcinogenic effect on humans

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As per various reports, crop protection chemicals are directly related with increasing cancer cases in India. However, according to a study by Centre for Environment & Agriculture (CE&A) India, it may be a myth calling crop protection chemical (CPC) as a prime culprit for increase in cancer cases in India.

CE&A, quoting list from World Health Organization (WHO), said, “WHO did not mention any pesticide in its list of chemicals that have carcinogenic effect on humans.” WHO had termed this list as Group One.

They have quoted that WHO international agency for research on cancer had listed 120 items in group one which are believed to be carcinogenic for humans, for instance Processed Red Meet, Alcohol, Coal tar, Tobacco and X-Ray. Interestingly, this list does not mention name of any crop protection chemical in it.

A train from Bhatinda to Bikaner had been termed as cancer train. Many of the patients travel in this train to get cancer treatment in regional cancer institute of Rajasthan. According to CE&A, people had started blaming the crop protection chemicals that had been in regular use from the days of green revolution. It has been understood by default that these chemicals had polluted the ground water and hence had an impact on cancerous cell development.

CE&A had even suggested that that there are many reports which suggests that ground water of Punjab region had uranium isotopic content in it with presence of other heavy metals which might have played a major role in increase of cancer cases in Punjab (Malwa) region. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BAARC) had even formed a committee to identify uranium isotopes in Malwa region of Punjab.

CE&A says that the committee by BAARC had asserted that due to natural causes drinking water had traces of uranium isotopes. It even says that there were no concrete evidences which can term CPC as the root cause of cancer in the region.

CE&A says that most of the states in India had been somehow similar, as many of the states like Maharashtra and Telangana which are known to use higher percentage of CPC’s do not have alarmingly high cases of cancer. In a more surprizing revelation it also suggests that sate like Sikkim which is known for organic culture has got one of the highest cases of cancer in India in comparison with other states of the India. Nations like Singapore that not much known in the world for their agrarian outputs has even higher number of cancer patients than India (ratio-wise)

It is also obvious that once one look at the given comparison, none can deny other factors being responsible for cancer. Few of the items listed in group one of WHO carcinogenic elements like Alcohol, Tobacco, Beetle nut (few varieties) are more in contact with humans than CPC’s. It actually gives benefit of doubt to CPC’s and raises doubts for ‘who being more responsible for cancer’?

It is also evident that till March 31st in the year 2016 around 272 crop protection chemicals had been listed with controller body CIBRC, where none of the chemicals had been classified as carcinogenic agent.

An expert from national association for agriculture sciences said that, use of CPC’s are like use of anti-biotic, right amount is a must for safe remedy.

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