Legal notice to JNU over alleged discrepancies in pesticide study

Legal notice to JNU over alleged discrepancies in pesticide study

An industry association has sent a legal notice to JNU here alleging that a study conducted by its researchers which claims to have detected high quantities 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) has sent the notice to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice Chancellor Sudhir Kumar Sopory and the research team seeking justification of the findings of the study.

The study, 'Health risk assessment of organochlorine pesticide exposure through dietary intake of vegetables grown in the periurban sites of Delhi, India' was conducted at JNU by Professor PS Khillare and a student, Sapna Chourasiya, with assistance from one Darpa Saurav Jyothi.

It was published by an international scientific journal, 'Environmental Science and Pollution Research' in November last year.

"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," S Ganesan, Public & Policy Advisor, CCFI, said in a statement.

"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. There are severe discrepancies in the research.

"The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also written to the university regarding the same, but there has been no response," he added.

Through the legal notice, the association has sought that the data be provided to it within seven days.

CCFI has also sent separate 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.

Meanwhile, even though Khillare refused to comment on the issue, the JNU Vice Chancellor said they have responded to the legal notice. Sopory said that 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," Sopory told PTI.

"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.  

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