By Nigar Orujova
Many people around the world are tending to eat organic foods nowadays despite the development of agricultural technologies. Azerbaijanis also prefer natural products.
Organic farming is widely developed around the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe. It is based on cultivation of agricultural products without pesticides – chemical substances used to protect crops from insects, fungi, weeds, and other pests. The question arises, if they are pernicious for all these lifeforms, are they safe for people and nature?
The issue has been discussed for decades. One side claims they are harmful, while others say that they are safe for people.
Nature-rich Azerbaijan could produce healthy organic products year-round due to its favorable geographic situation.
Head of the Azerbaijani Free Consumers Union, Eyyub Huseynov, told local press that the agricultural products in the Azerbaijani market could contain pesticides.
He said, almost all domestic farmers use them for growing fruits and vegetables.
The roots are treated with nitrite, and the leaves and the upper part with pesticides. In addition, pesticides are also used to preserve fruits and vegetables that are much more suited for sale.
However, the same is true around the world.
Organic products are those products that can be grown without chemicals and fertilizers, he noted.
Huseynov noted that agricultural products imported into the country are tested to identify pesticides, but not on a full scale.
He suggested the creation of an independent laboratory for consumers who have doubts regarding the content of pesticides in purchased fruits and vegetables.
The expert has repeatedly pointed out the risk of high doses of pesticides for the human body. Pesticides are alien substances for human organism and tend to accumulate in human body exerting a toxic effect and affecting the central nervous system, internal organs.
Scientific studies of the potential effects of hazardous chemicals such as pesticides on human health permit to categorize them on carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and teratogenic.
To avoid getting pesticides in the body, it is necessary to choose fruits and vegetables very carefully, giving preference to organic products.
Chairman of the Green Movement of Azerbaijan, Farida Huseynova, believes the effect of pesticides in the products on human body has been poorly studied.
She urges people to avoid unnaturally large and smooth vegetables of very bright colors and thick leaves. Vegetables and fruit should smell, even if slightly.
She contents that while it is impossible to get rid of pesticides and other hazardous substances in full, basic steps can be taken at home. For example, fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed.
Harmful substances are, however, absorbed into the vegetables, which require consumers to peel the skin and expose them to heat-treating.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says although pesticides can be useful, they also can be dangerous if used carelessly or are not stored properly.
Thus, it is believed that pesticides used carefully are not harmful for people. The same can be said about water. Pesticides can contaminate drinking water supplies through ground. Contamination here depends on how toxic the pesticides are and how much of it is in the water.
The global market for pesticides is estimated at about $30 billion annually. More than one million tons of pesticides are in use, with 60 percent of them in agriculture. At present, there are about 5,000 types of pesticides and 700 kinds of chemical ingredients.
There are also concerns as usage of pesticides results in development of over 650 types of pests resistant to the poison.
Compared with the beginning of the 40s, when pesticides were first used, their consumption in agriculture has increased tenfold, but crop losses due to insects have doubled in the last 50 years. These statistics cast doubt on the effectiveness of such ways to deal with pests.