Consumer Issues
Pesticides, Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Organic Rice
UPDATED on 22 February 2017: Updated to post reply received from Organic Tattva
 
Grahak Sathi, a National Consumer Magazine in Hindi, published by the Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, has released the findings of its in-house comparative product-testing laboratory on seven brands of organic rice. The findings revealed that six out of seven brands had pesticide residues and all seven brands contained toxic heavy metals. The very rationale of buying an organic product is to ensure it is pesticide-free.
  
The brands carried a variety of logos and certifications from national and international agencies. This is confusing for consumers. Why should a product meant for the domestic market carry so many international logos?
 
The three heavy metals tested for in the products were lead, copper and arsenic. “We tested the products for 16 pesticides. The four pesticides detected belonged to the organophosphate group,” says the report.
 
Six of the seven brands of organic rice contained pesticide residues. Fabindia Organics did not have pesticide residues. Two brands, Organic on Call and Sanjeevani Organics, had Chlorpyrifos levels above the prescribed limit. Two of the four non-organic rice brands had pesticide residues.
 
Over a long duration even microscopic quantities of pesticides can be harmful. The pesticides detected by the tests are not in the US list of pesticides permitted in organic products.
 
All the organic rice brands showed presence of all three heavy metals, though they were within the prescribed limits. None of the non-organic rice brands had arsenic. Copper levels were higher than in organic rice brands, though within limits. Lead levels were within limits and slightly lower than that in the organic rice brands.
 
Organic rice brands are much costlier than ordinary brands. Comparing the extremes, you would be paying more than five times the price for the costliest organic rice brand –Fabindia Organics – than you would for the cheapest non-organic rice brand – Hypercity. 
 
Most organic rice brands claimed to be free of pesticides. Morarka Organic’s Down to Earth, which contained both pesticide residues and toxic heavy metals, claimed to be: “…free from chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, toxic substances, synthetic hormones…” Two organic rice brands – Vikalp Organic Product and Organic on Call – did not have any organic certification.
 
Manufacturers’ Response
As a policy, the laboratory conveys the test results to manufacturers. It received the following responses:
 
Sanjeevani Organics said that organic certification was done for the practices and processes, and not for the products. But consumers are concerned not with processes and practices but with the end product. Certification for processes must reflect in quality of final product.
 
24 Mantra Organic said that the pesticide detected by the tests, Chlorfenvinphos, was not used even in conventional paddy cultivation and not available in their project area. 
 
Organic Tattva said that as per the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) guidelines there is no requirement for testing for heavy metals for organic products. While this is true, CERC says “we have tested for them as consumers should be concerned about their presence in foods. Heavy metals accumulate in the human body over a period of time and cause harm.”
 
CERC has urged that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) should set specific mandatory standards for organic foods. “In response to our appeal over a year ago, we received a letter from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) saying that BIS has constituted a committee to formulate standards for organic foods. However, no concrete action has been taken as yet,” says CERC. 
 
It also argues that National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) certification should be made mandatory. NPOP, which currently certifies organic process standards, should also certify the final product. Also, India needs to follow labelling norms as per global best practices.  Regular monitoring of organic food quality, including that sold online, is necessary and advertising claims made by organic product manufacturers should be closely monitored.
 
Grahak Sathi’s conclusion is that “organic brands of rice are not safer than non-organic ones. There is no concrete evidence that organic food has higher nutritional value than regular food. Also, organic rice brands are much more expensive. Our advice is not to buy organic rice. People want to make healthier choices and the Government must support them in this matter. It should ensure that consumers do not get exploited in the name of organic foods. It is vital that the regulatory authorities set standards and closely monitor the quality of organic food products.”
 
UPDATE:
In good faith, we have changed the photo in this article. We have sent emails to CERC, which is one of India's leading consumer organisations with its own testing laboratories, and the one on whose findings this article is based. CERC is supported and recognised by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It has been doing such product testing for decades.

We will take further action on the article when we hear from CERC.

Here is an email we received from Kriti Mehrotra of Organic Tattva...

"There is no proof in this article that shows that we are manufacturing food not fit for consumers. We had received an email from Ms. Mehta few months ago where she told us that when she tested our products, there were no traces of Pesticides, however there were traces of Heavy metals, which were within the FSSAI limits. That being said, there was no need to put our Brand name and logo on this article, when we are following all government norms. Since the publication of this article, we are getting calls from consumers and retailers and its not right that we have to answer to this, when our company follows all food safety and APEDA guidelines."
 

User

COMMENTS

ishan girdhar

3 weeks ago

Being a enlightened customer one need to know the truth, as all these companies are here for business not for any social cause, so would look forward for a deeper investigation in this matter and companies involved in fraudulent activities, have their licensed be cancelled and strict action should be taken. Do Business but the Right Way.

krishna

2 months ago


1)
-Land test(chemical free, )
2)
-Underground water test(chemical free)
3)
-No Hybrid Seeds(non genitically modified natural very old indian seeds)
4)
-No Pesticides & inceticides( use non chemicals like turmeric, calcium corbonate, dung, neem,)
5)
- No Fertilizers. (Only compost manure and animal dung.)
6)
-Radio active test. (are they radio active free)

All these 6 aspects (land, underground water, seeds, manure, natural pesticides, radioactive free).

ONLY, if these tests are passed, then call them "organic" and charge high price.

MONEYLIFE need not worry that they will be challenged in courts.

Thank You, Moneylife!

shiv

2 months ago

The label "Organic" is a racket which thrives on fear of cancer especially among the rich as they have so much money they seek uninterrupted cancer free long life.This racket will continue as long as people are loaded with money.easy come and easy go.for the information of penny pinchers watching every little nickel in their pocket, stay clear off this "Organic" label.To really get an organic product,everything starting with land,seed,manure should be free of "chemicals" especially pre harvest/post harvest treatment of pesticides on plants.But the most important factor is the land needs to be left fallow for 3 full years during which time the rains that fall on the land is supposed to wash off existing pesticides mixed in the soil.imagine 3 years of no harvest,,none of jokers who peddle these "Organic" products will tell you real story.they are a mafia thriving on each others silence -farmers/Scientists,Agriculturalists,media,Government.As far as rich people with loose cash, have no pity on them when they are short changed.easy come,, easy go.

REPLY

krishna

In Reply to shiv 2 months ago

CORRECT!
(in response to prev comment)

-Land test(chemical free, radioactive free)

-Underground water test(chemical free)

-Seeds(non genitically modified)i.e non-hybrid.

-Pesticides & inceticides(non chemicals like turmeric, calcium corbonate, dung, neem,)

-Only compost manure and animal dung.

All these 5 aspects (land, underground water, seeds, manure, natural pesticides)

ONLY, if these tests are passed, then call them "organic" and charge high price.

MONEYLIFE need not worry that they will be challenged in courts.

Thank You, Moneylife!

Kriti

2 months ago

It is unbelievable the limit you go will go to tarnish a brand's image. I am contacting you from Organic Tattva. There were no pesticides detected in our samples, and even the heavy metals were detected within FSSAI limits. How can you use our brand name and LOGO in this article? This is baseless. You should be ashamed. We are getting calls from consumers and retailers and all this because of an article where our name shouldn't even be mentioned!! We are following all norms and manufacturing food following all guidelines. It's best you rectify this right away because we will take legal action against you for defaming our Brand.

krishna

2 months ago

Pesticides, Fertilizers based is only SIDE OF STORY.

What is the other side is
"Whether the seeds are genitically modified international brands or pure unaltered natural indian seeds.

Difference:
1)Genitically modified Hybrid seeds are not good for health. They have less or inadequent nutrietion. They don't cure diseases. Some argue that they cause diseasws.Not sure.
2)They look shiny like germs but will not have taste.
3)Farmers are buying expensive seeds by discarding natiral seeds. They are investing more by taking loans to buy theae pest resistant and high yield seeds. In next crop again they need to buy new seeds, by taking another loan. On countrary , before farmers used to just save a bag of seed harvest for sowing. It used to not vost them anything.

Traditional indian meathods were to soak seeds in neem juice, use tumeric and calcium corbonate(white cement) as pesticides.

Then natural compost manure with leaves twigs, animal dung were in use.

To suppliment rlements like Nitrogen, Phosphrous, Magnenese, .etc they used rotation of crops instead of growing same crop again and again on same piece of land.

Wish MODI to do allocate some 1000 acres of land and take precautions to save indian original seeds(basmati case is one such example).

2

Sundaram Kumarappan

2 months ago

Thanks for this article and awareness that this has created. Its high time the committee acts and takes action. For the labeling and process of checking norms i believe there is a long way to go

Shweta Korgaonkar

2 months ago

"BIS has constituted a committee to formulate standards for organic foods. However, no concrete action has been taken as yet" -- This is very pathetic ... they are interested in forming committees only and by that some people are provided job and money ... the problem remains as it is.. by the time the report of this so called committee is out .. the damage is done...very poor

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

2 months ago

People simply believe that organic food is good for health. They don't cross check where all these organic grains are harvested, and how they are harvested. Even in cow dung we find toxic metals, since cows are not getting pure fodder for them to eat. Artificially made cow fodder is used, with the aim to get more milk. Naturally such cow dung, when used as manure for organic cultivation of harvest, will contain toxic metal traces.

REPLY

Balraj Amaravadi

In Reply to Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag 2 months ago

Only left out way is : Natural Farming. Very few started this way and yet, to see their products in store shelves( currently, these are distributed privately)

Ramesh Poapt

2 months ago

very good article!

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Stock manipulation: Maha Rashtra Apex Corporation

Maha Rashtra Apex Corporation Limited claims to be into leasing, hire purchase and bill discounting services. It has nine branches and one franchisee across the country. Over the past several years, the company has made no significant sales, barring in one year, and has been making huge operating losses. These losses get reduced at the net loss level because of the other income it receives.

 

This other income is the interest received on bank deposits. For FY15-16, sales were Rs1.26 crore whereas the operating loss was Rs6.84 crore. Net loss stood at just Rs8 lakh because of other income —of Rs9 crore. However, the stock has moved by 3702% in two years, from Rs3.68 on 17 March 2015 to Rs139.9 on 3 February 2017. Why? Maybe Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) can tell, if their expensive surveillance system is working. 

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COMMENTS

Durga Prasad

2 months ago

The stock is up because its the holding company of Kurlon mattress. Sheela foam recently got listed and now commands mcap of Rs5000 crores plus. Maha rashtra apex started moving up after the listing of Sheela Foam. Kurlon is the no 1 company in India and is bigger than Sheela Foam. So one can expect Kurlon to be worth more than Sheela Foam. Stock investors are now looking at holding value and not based on revenues or profits from current business

Jay

2 months ago

There is news that Kurlon Enterprise or Kurlon Limited will come with an IPO very sonn. Hence the valuations. I am personally holding 1000 shares of kurlon limited. If anyone wants to buy then get in touch with me.

jay_shahgm[at]yahoo[dot]com

REPLY

Narendra Pai

In Reply to Jay 2 months ago

What will ve the market price of kurlon, even I am having few shares

Kunal Singh

2 months ago

Now moneylife is just doing it for the sake of it. Not every move is a "manipulation" or rigging. If you actually carried out some real investigation and presented "facts", it'd be good. Otherwise, it's just like filling the pages. The scrip ran up after Sheela Foam got listed. It'd be nice to state some facts of how the company has defaulted on fixed deposits in the past. Only, if you really investigated.

Deepak Agrawal

2 months ago

Financials do not always reflect value. In this case, it's hidden in balance sheet. It's holding company of kurl-on, iconic mattresses brand. Investment is at bv in balance sheet and does not reflect true value.

Deepak Agrawal

2 months ago

Financials do not always reflect value. In this case, it's hidden in balance sheet. It's holding company of kurl-on, iconic mattresses brand. Investment is at bv in balance sheet and does not reflect true value.

Varadaraya Mallya

2 months ago

Suchetha Mam, would like to bring to your notice that Maharashtra Apex was the original Sharada Chit dund scam of the south when lakhs of depositors were defrauded of their hard earned money in 2001. The company clakmed loss and inability to pay back deposits to lakhs of honest Indians in what is called the cradle of Indian Banking, i.e., Mangalore/ Udupi

Roshan Thapa

2 months ago

It hols 35% stake in Kurlon Enterprises, leading mattress brand of India.

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