By PMA RASHEED
20 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today
THE federal environment watchdog has further increased the number of pesticides from 190 to 220, for which analysis is now mandated.
The move has come about to ensure quality of fresh farm produce across the country and to protect residents from various health hazards associated with the use of lethal chemical contaminants.
The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has plans to further raise the number to 400 pesticides during the coming period, according to sources.
A couple of weeks ago, the ministry had tightened its pesticide monitoring system by implementing stringent measures and doubling the number of pesticide products to be lab-tested, from 92 to 190 samples.
The ministry further raised the average number of the pesticide samples to be monitored, before being used on farms across the country, as part of its strategic plans to ensure the highest degree of food safety in the UAE, according to a senior MoEW official.
Dr Mariam Al Shinasi, executive director for technical affairs at the MoEW, said that a team of experts from the ministry is currently working on testing the pesticide residues on fresh vegetable and fruits produce.
“The team carries out the assessment programmes to analyse such chemicals by implementing global guidelines in this regard,” she added.
“The ministry’s regular analysis procedures have reported pesticide residues in many food products. The results prompted the authority to increase the number of pesticides to be analysed in laboratories,” she pointed out.
According to Dr Al Shinasi, the MoEW is currently working on implementing a national system to achieve integrated pesticide management and control of their circulation and use.
“The national scheme will be launched in accordance with the strategy for tighter control of pesticides use in fresh food items produced and supplied in the country. Further legislations and regulations are in the pipeline, intended to control pesticide use. These would stipulate strict conditions and criteria for registration, circulation and spraying of the pesticides,” she noted.
“The application of the regulations by trading or farming establishments will be ensured by supervision of the ministry, in tandem with local authorities concerned. The MoEW laboratories have been equipped with fully-integrated mechanisms to analyse the vegetables and fruits imported into the country as well as those produced locally,” elaborated Dr Al Shinasi.
“The Authority has been imposing several measures for the public health safety, bio-security and protection of the environment. Each consignment of vegetables and fruits have to undergo the MoEW monitoring procedures and obtain clearance certifications to state that they are free from harmful chemical residues, before reaching the market,” she said.
“The ministry prevents entry of any type of vegetables and fruits in the event they have been detected to be using dangerous pesticides which exceed globally permissible limits. In addition, such consignments with contaminated foods will be confiscated and destroyed in cooperation with the municipalities,” added the MoEW official.