Union Commerce Minister echoes Greenpeace’s concerns on pesticide residue in the national drink

Greenpeace urges Indian tea companies to look for real solutions and not hide behind the regulation

Press release - August 21, 2014
New Delhi, August 21, 2014: Expressing serious concern on the issue of pesticide residues in tea, the Union Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in a recent media interview, raised questions on the safety of consumers [1].Greenpeace India urged the Indian tea companies not to hide behind regulations, but look towards real solutions of Non Pesticide Management (NPM) that can ensure consumers their right to safe tea. In India pesticides are regulated by Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the regulation has been proven to be in shambles.

"The registration of 248 pesticides by the CIBRC has no rationale, as this has been done without checking whether alternatives exist, while Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are not set for all registered pesticides. Also, MRLs are not an indicator of safety as they are set for individual active ingredients and Greenpeace has found a cocktail of pesticides in more than half the samples tested. The failure of the regulation has been further demonstrated in the tea sector with Greenpeace finding pesticides like Monocrotophos, Tebufenpyrad and Triazophos in tea samples; these pesticides are unapproved for use in tea. Greenpeace is, therefore, asking the tea companies to commit to a roadmap of gradual phase out of pesticides adopting an ecosystem based approach," said Neha Saigal, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Earlier this month, two of the leading tea companies Hindustan Unilever Limited [2] (HUL) and Girnar Tea [3] came forward in support of NPM for tea after Greenpeace India released its report "Trouble Brewing [4]".

"The tea industry has taken cognizance of our report and acknowledged the issue of pesticides in tea. While we acknowledge the efforts made by companies like Tata Global Beverages Limited (TGBL), we hope they will adopt a new holistic approach which can lead to elimination and not reduction of pesticides. We urge the tea companies to take plantation owners and small tea growers along with them on this sustainable journey," Saigal added further.

Recently International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements released a statement calling on the tea industry to save the tea industry and the right of consumers to safe tea [5]. Greenpeace will continue engaging with all stakeholders in the tea sector and facilitate movement towards a solution that will help the sector move out of the pesticide treadmill and ensure sustainable livelihoods for the farmers and safe tea for the consumers.

Notes to the editor:

1) http://www.rediff.com/news/interview/exclusive-pm-takes-his-job-seriously-in-letter-and-spirit/20140820.htm?sc_cid=twshare "Recently I was very worried to read media reports saying tea has a high content of pesticides. What are we doing? We are drinking that almost like our national drink. Coffee is also equally a national drink. Every family starts their day with one of the drinks. So if you are going to have pesticide residue, these are very serious issues."

2) http://www.unilever.nl/nieuwsenmedia/persberichten/2014/UnileverstartonderzoekinIndianaarmogelijkheidtheetetelenzonderpesticiden.aspx

3) https://twitter.com/TeasAtGirnar

4) http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/Press/Greenpeace-calls-on-the-industry-to-save-Indian-tea-from-pesticides/

5) http://www.ifoam.org/sites/default/files/press_release_on_tea_pesticide_0.pdf

For more information: http://grnpc.org/cleanchai

Follow us on twitter: @GreenpeaceIndia


Shashwat Raj: Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 9971110144,

Neha Saigal: Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 7760968772,