A legal notice has been sent to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by an industry association claiming that a study conducted by JNU researchers, which claims to have detected high levels of over 20 banned pesticides in vegetables produced in NCR has discrepancies and is a case of "laboratory fraud".
The Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) issued the notice to JNU Vice Chancellor Sudhir Kumar Sopory and the research team seeking justification of the findings of the study.
The study titled, 'Health risk assessment of organochlorine pesticide exposure through dietary intake of vegetables grown in the periurban sites of Delhi, India' was conducted by Professor PS Khillare and a student, Sapna Chourasiya, with assistance from one Darpa Saurav Jyothi, JNU.
The study was published by an international scientific journal, 'Environmental Science and Pollution Research'
in November last year.
S Ganesan, Public & Policy Adviser, CCFI, said, "It is an extreme case of laboratory fraud. The message conveyed to global community... is that banned pesticides are still available in India, the Indian farmers are routinely using them, there is lax regulatory control in India over such wrongdoings and, finally, eating Indian vegetables is a health hazard."
"We have sent several communications to the (JNU) VC seeking basic information such as chromatograms, limit of detection, limit of quantification, calibration details and relevant raw data pertaining to the published study. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also written to the university regarding the same, but there has been no response," he added.
The association has sought that the data be provided to it within a week. CCFI has also sent petitions to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Visitor of the university, and the HRD Ministry urging them to order a probe into the matter and ensure a check on cases of "scientific misconduct" by researchers at the universities.
Professor Khillare refused to comment on the issue. JNU Vice Chancellor said that they have responded to the legal notice. The varsity does not figure in the picture vis-a-vis the present matter as its faculty was independent to conduct research. We have responded to the legal notice.
"There was one paper which was published by our colleague in an international journal. We don't come directly into the picture because our faculty is totally independent to do their research," said Sopory.
"The administration doesn't interfere with research activities. They are free to publish their work. If there is something which is brought to our notice about plagiarism or any such issue, then we take note of it," he added.