Indian tea contains pesticides, says Greenpeace; Tea Board refutes allegation
NEW DELHI: Leading national and global brands of tea
sold in India contain pesticides, Greenpeace India said on Monday. The Tea
Board of India refuted the allegation, saying Indian tea was ‘totally safe’ and
meets high standards.
“Indian tea is a national pride and it should not be
the one linked to toxic chemicals with serious environmental and health risks.
All stakeholders in the tea industry should come forward and take steps to
safeguard the reputation of our national drink,” said Neha Saigal, senior
campaigner for Greenpeace India.
The Tea Board of India later said in a statement, “...
having reviewed the findings of the Greenpeace study, (we) can confirm that all
the samples tested comply with the Indian laws and regulations, designed to
protect consumers. Indian teas are well regarded the world over and are totally
safe following stringent standards.”
Between June 2013 and May 2014, Greenpeace India said
it tested samples of 49 branded packaged teas from eight of the top 11
companies that dominate the branded tea market in India and which also export
to countries like Russia, Britain, the US, the UAE and Iran.
Greenpeace said a large number of the samples “tested
positive for a cocktail of toxic pesticides. DDT was present in almost 67 per
cent of the tea samples even though it is no longer registered for use in
agriculture in India and was banned in such applications as long ago as 1989.”
The Tea Board of India said it would like to dispel
any misconceptions about Indian tea in the eyes of consumers at large. “The
Indian tea industry led by the Tea Board of India has been constantly taking
steps to make tea cultivation even more sustainable and reduce reliance on
synthetic plant protection products to ensure that Indian tea continues to meet
the high standards consumers expect.”
The steps include the launch of an initiative that
will have certified at least 50 million kg of tea by December 2014 and the
development of a ‘plant protection code’ to aid best practice in tea
cultivation. The Tea Board of India said it was open to collaborating with all
stakeholders to help make tea production more sustainable in the long run.