Senator Joshua Lidani representing Gombe South Senatorial zone has raised alarm over the health implication of the consumption of foods containing a high concentration of pesticide among Nigerians.
Lidani raised the alarm in the wake of the suspension of some agricultural food exports from Nigeria by the European Union (EU). The food items banned from Europe till June 2016 are beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil. The European Food Safety Authority had said that the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide, when the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.
Lidani therefore, called on regulatory agencies in the country to rise up to the occasion and save Nigerians from the dangers of consuming foods containing unacceptable levels of chemicals. He said: “The EU ban should not have come as a surprise to us because they have very rigorous standards of checking food import especially with the shift towards organic foods. Unfortunately we do not have similar standards in Nigeria especially as it affects the food we consume. We do not have standards of determining whether the foods we consume are noxious; whether they have chemicals that are harmful. NAFDAC and Standards Organisation of Nigeria are supposed to regulate but there is a limit to what they can do. We are yet to realise the enormity of the problem; so unless we look into the effects of these harmful substances, we may end up having a population that is threatened by diseases such as cancer. Cancer is a consequence of eating this kind of chemically harmful foods; so we need to do a lot of work.”
Lidani said that legislators would ensure that the laws establishing the regulatory agencies were strengthened to enable them to check such harmful foods. According to him, once the Senate constitutes its committees, the committees will begin to consider bills on food laws for amended in order to ensure food safety in the country. “It is up to us the legislator to strengthen their capacity, to look at the laws under which they are operating so they will not focus on just food that are exported but food that are consumed within. You also have to educate the populace as to the kind of foods that are harmful; what level of pesticides you should apply (to your agric produce) and what effects the chemical fertiliser that (we apply to agric produce) have on the food we eat,” he said.
The EU had warned Nigeria that the banned food items constituted danger to human health because they “contain a high level of unauthorised pesticide”. It said it had issued 50 notifications on this to Nigerian beans exporters since January 2013. The pesticide contained in the food items is applied when the products are being prepared for export.
By Pita Ochai