Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue VIII

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue VIII

Newsletter-Aug-2014 (4.3 MB, 570 downloads)

Slow Poison: Pesticide Tea

Each one of us has a dream. We toil hard to make our dreams come true. We trudge along even in the face of adversity hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All of us dream of living our life to the fullest. For some the dream is to own fancy automobiles, for others a concrete structure in one of those high rises, designer clothes for few others, with all of them united in their love for savouring food and beverages of their choice. Food apart from being the connoisseurs delight is also a basic need without which we perish. Some brew premium tea handpicked and hand packaged at thousands of rupees a kg, whereas others can only savour the hot brew in roadside tea stalls in between their daily struggles to keep their hunger in abeyance.

Though both young and old, rich as well as the poor consume tea, the cost and brands stood apart maintaining the division between the elites and the masses. However, an unlikely deadly ingredient in this popular beverage has broken the class barrier. The tea that all of us consume is slowly poisoning us.

A recent study by Greenpeace has found deadly pesticide residues in various brands of Tea found in the market.

Out of a total sample size of 49 picked up from the market, 34 samples contain residues of atleast one pesticide and 29 samples ie. 59 percentage contained more than 10 pesticides. The concentration of the pesticide residues were high with 29 samples ie. 59 percentage of the total samples contained pesticide residues above EU (European Union) limits.

Mixing pesticides to spray on the plantation

Mixing pesticides to spray on the plantation

Considering thefact that we drink tea many times a day and some of us even carry flask full of tea to our hides while documenting wildlife or to our places of work, the amount of toxicity that accumulates in our bodies would be pretty high. The pesticides found in the tea samples like Acephate and Monocrotophos affect the nervous system. When animals were fed acephate in their diets for two years, a greater number of them had liver or adrenal gland tumors. Mice that were fed high doses of acephate all at once had DNA damage in blood cells, although the damage was repaired four days after the exposure.* US E.P.A. classifies Acephate as possible human carcinogen**. Acephate is also toxic to bees and affects birds in reduced eggs, lower fertility of eggs and hatchlings and it disrupts the migratory patterns.

Pesticide solution to spray on the plants/crops

Pesticide solution to spray on the plants/crops

Monocrotophos another pesticide found in the tea samples can cause blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, convolusions, coma and death. Monocrotophos also results in many bird deaths.*** In 1996 in Argentina, researchers documented atleast 14 different incidents of hawk kills. The number of Swainsons hawks killed varied from a few to more than 3,000 at one site. There have been other reports of Franklin Gulls, doves, quails, warblers, sandpipers and other birds found dead in US in fields sprayed with Monocrotophos.

Tebufenpyrad, which was found in one sample, is a pesticide which is illegal in India and can impact your liver. Highly toxic DDT and Endosulfan were also found in some of the tea samples.

The pesticides that are found in the tea samples also find their way into the ecosystem by polluting the streams and lakes, polluting ground water by leaching into the ground, and bio-accumulating and impacting various wild species.

Unfortunately we cant distinguish which brand is safe as there is no traceability to the tea gardens from where the leaves were plucked or cut. So even after we are aware of the fact that a majority of the tea produced have pesticides, we cant distinguish which tea is good as all the brands have pesticide residues. The tea factories purchase tea from various gardens, however, on the packs there is no mention of tea garden the leaves were plucked from. So even if you know that a particular garden sprays deadly synthetic pesticides, there is no way of avoiding tea from that garden. The consumer has the right to know and such information has to be made mandatory.

The Government has to also step in to make a much larger intervention in stopping the use of synthetic pesticides. The Government has to earmark large landscapes where only organic farming is done. Tea estates and other plantations being in mostly ecologically fragile areas, it makes sense to start the process by declaring all plantations and areas above 800 meters as organic farming zones. The money that is now spentas subsidy towards Pesticide and fertilizers can be diverted to these areas. Government can also consider other forms of support wherever necessary.

This is not an impractical idea as a few years back Ministry of Environment and Fertillisers had initiated trials of neem based pesticides in tea gardens in Valparai. This had given excellent results not only as a pesticide but also helped in regeneration ie. when the neem based spray fell on the ground it acted as fertilizer. Unfortunately, the results of those trials were never followed up. If such organic pesticides like Neem based pesticides are given prominence through subsidies and legislation, then the existing synthetic pesticide lobby will be hurt. In the opaque world of today where such lobbies and politicians are hand in glove, I wonder if this NDA Government would be interested in setting up exclusive organic farming zones by including all the plantations. Before becoming the Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Modi had raised a high voltage campaign setting up Tea parties titled chai-pe-charcha. Having worked as a tea seller before reaching the pinnacle of his career as Prime Minister of this country, I am sure he would squirm at the thought of people being poisoned via a cup of tea. Recently the Prime Minister had spoken about making North East an Organic farming area. So I hope if we raise our voice, we will see positive action in this front.

Deceptive Greenery

Tea Estates: Deceptive Greenery


Unfortunately, this incident too is going to be forgotten like the proverbial storm in a tea cup and we will continue to get pesticides in our tea and foods unless we raise our voice. So I would urge you all to kindly shoot a letter or email to the following requesting them to take action:

Shri Narendra Modi

Honble Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill,New Delhi 110011

Tel: +91-11-23012312



Shri Radha Mohan Singh

Minister of Agriculture

Krishi Bhavan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,,New Delhi,110001


Ph:+91 11 23782691,23383370( Off.)
+91 11 23384129(Fax)


Shri Ananth Kumar

Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers

A-Wing. Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,New Delhi,110001

Ph:+91 11 23386519,23386364( Off.)
+91 11 23384020(Fax)




*National Pesticide Information Centre (

** EPA: US Environmental Protection Agency

*** New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services


Supreme Court stops all decisions of the NBWL

The Honble Supreme Court of India has stayed all the decisions taken by the newly constituted National Board of Wildlife till the next hearing.

The Government had on July 22nd 2014 notified a truncated board without the mandatory number of members. Instead of nominating 5 NGOs, the Government choose to nominate GEER (Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation). Infact GEER is a Government of Gujarat entity and hence is not an NGO. The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002 mandates that 10 persons would be chosen by the Central Government from amongst eminent conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists. However it had decided to select elephant expert Sri Raman Sukumar and Sri H. S. Singh a retired forest officer from Gujarat cadre. The Central Government is also required to select a representative each from 10 States and Union Territories by rotation, however it choose only 5. This newly constituted board had cleared more than 100 projects in two days meaning they would have taken couple of minutes to clear each project. In short the NBWL acted as a stamping authority to grant permissions without any deliberations.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice J S Khehar and comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri while staying the more than 100 project clearances by this newly constituted board said We are of the view that the same (the notification altering the constitution of the NBWL in the impugned manner) was not issued in consonance of the Section 5A of the Wildlife Protection Act. Without disbanding the NBWL, they defanged it and said that the NBWL may continue to function but shall not give effect to any order till the next date of hearing.

After the constitution of the NBWL, there were many people from Gujarat who were happy that with GEER foundation, a retired officer from Gujarat being in the board and with the PM as the Chairman of NBWL also being from Gujarat, all projects from Gujarat were going to be cleared and the reconstituted NBWL would delay the lion relocation project for years, if not completely scuttle it. There is no smoke without fire. This Government has come with a massive mandate and had promised great things like Zero Defect, Zero Effect. Unfortunately though a majority of the Indian industry is far away from achieving zero defect manufacturing but still can achieve it, there doesnt seem to be any truth to the slogan of Zero effect ie. no pollution or no environmental footprint while doing our business.

Indias wilderness areas and along with it its wildlife is vanishing at a rapid pace. Unless we take steps now, there will be no tomorrow.


IndiaWilds App for Android Mobile

In India most of the internet penetration is happening through mobile phones. And the existing users who have access to desktops and laptops are becoming much more mobile then they used to be a few years ago. So to raise awareness and reach out to more people we need to adapt ourselves and make IndiaWilds easily accessed through a mobile phone using android OS.

Today, I am pleased to announce that we have created a mobile phone app so that people can access IndiaWilds anytime, anywhere without being tied to a computer. No need to type. One can access at the click of a button.

We have developed this app through Business Compass LLC a company based in Randolph, New Jersey, United States so that we create a good app.

Awareness is the first step before a person can become a champion of wildlife. I hope this will help us in reaching out to more people to raise awareness and make a real impact on the conservation landscape. If you have an android device then please download the app from this link:


IndiaWilds Article: Wake-up Call to Save a Paradise

by Raghavendra Pattar


Conservation News:

Government seeks proposals for five new tiger reserves:

Javadekar calls for enhanced action by developed countries to tackle climate change

India’s first jellyfish lake discovered

Mangrove in Sunderbans losing capacity to absorb CO2: Study

Third run of Science Express to raise awareness about biodiversity


Equipment Discussions

Canon Cinema C300 Dual Pixel AF Review


Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: The ‘VOICE OF THE DUMB‘: By Saktipada Panigrahi

Bioluminescent Fungii by Bibhav Behera


Sounds of Nature

Glandular Bush Frogby Abhishek Jamalabad

Knob-handed Shrub Frogby Abhishek Jamalabad


Wildlife Photography

Glandular Bush Frog by Abhishek Jamalabad

Celebrating Monsoon Snail in Yeoor by Anil Kumar Verma

Ghost Crab byDr Hari Venkatesh K R

Ratufa indica centralis NSTRby Subhash Shrivastava

Tiger in Black and Whiteby Vipin Sharma

Malabar Grey Hornbill and the Scorpion -2by Shyamala Kumar

Pallid Scops Owlby Paramvir Singh
Stork-billeed kingfisherby Jitendra Katre
Streaked Laughing Thrush by Prasad Dingankar


I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country. For other interesting articles and images check -

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Newsletter-Aug-2014 (4.3 MB, 570 downloads)
Sabyasachi Patra
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