The growing demand for food and feed due to consistent increase in the world population has led to increase in the use of chemical pesticides in order to obtain more yield and protection of crop from pests and diseases.
These have made crop protection to increase by about 100%, while the cropping area has increased marginally by about 20%. The indiscriminate usage of pesticide leads to accumulation of pesticide residues in food chain, aquatic system and soil (Jayashree and Vasudevan, 2007).
The non-degradability of pesticide residues causes resistance of pests to the chemicals indicating 50-70% of contamination with insecticide residues. Public concern towards pesticide residues has risen over decades to a point where it has become a significant food safety issue.
The determination of pesticide residues in food has therefore become an essential requirement for consumer, producers and authorities responsible for food quality control (Aguilearetal., 2003).
Public Concerns about Pesticide Residues
Pesticides applied to food crops in the field can leave potentially harmful residues; and organochlorines in particular are persistent in foodstuffs for longer periods. If crops are sprayed on to harvest without an appropriate waiting period, even organophosphorus insecticides can persist in food.
Pesticide residues in foods are a growing source of concern for the general population. A substantial body of research and epidemiological evidence suggests that certain pesticides are associated with carcinogenesis, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, behavioural impairment, reproductive dysfunction, endocrine disruption, developmental disabilities and respiratory diseases, such as asthama (Solomon etal., 2000).
In conclusion, while pesticides help protect our food supply, many people are concerned about pesticides on the food they eat.
Small amounts of pesticide residues may stay in or on our food after it is applied, but pesticides ‘break down’ over time, meaning very little residue is left by the time we eat the food.
The rate of ‘break down’ depends on the type of pesticide used, the application conditions, and the type of food treated. So, the amount and nature of pesticide residue can be different from one pesticide or food type to another.
Government regulatory agencies are responsible for approving pesticide uses and conditions of use, and for setting Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides.
Food safety is a shared priority between growers, industry, statess and federal organizations. While government agencies work to enforce food regulatory laws, food producers help keep food safe by using and improving on good agricultural and pest management practices.
One key practice is to follow pesticide label directions, because they give instructions for the safe and proper use of pesticides.
This helps keep residues within the limits, helping ensure a safe food supply. Government agencies should engage food producers to participate in a variety of on-farm programs to help put in place effective food safety procedures in their day-to-day operations.
Pesticide residues get into cereals and pulses either through pesticide application to control pest on the field or in storage;
The extent of pesticide residues problems in grains depends on the type of pesticide applied, application environment, and the type of crop
Minimum residue limit (MRL) can be achieved in cereals and pulse if the growers abide by standards set by regulatory agencies.