Indian researchers at Patiala University have revealed that exposure to pesticides has altered the DNA of people in farming communities of Punjab and may make them more vulnerable to cancer.
Professor Satbir Kaur said the study ruled out other factors such as age, alcohol intake and smoking, concluding that the probable cause of this fundamental alteration in DNA was due to the use of pesticide sprays.
"We found significant change in the DNA, so the cancer risk is greatly increased when the extent of DNA damage is very high," BBC quoted Kaur as saying.
However, Salil Singhal of the industry trade association, the Crop Care Federation of India contradicted the findings and said that this causal link could not be possible.
"There is no pesticide in use today which can cause cancer," he said.
He said farmers use sprays only a few times each season.