Mumbai : Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), the apex body representing the agrochemical industry in India, has filed a criminal defamation case in a Magistrate’s court against NGO Greenpeace over its report on alleged overuse of pesticides in the tea industry.
Greenpeace India had in August 2014 released a report ‘Trouble Brewing: Pesticide Residues in Tea Sample’, which claimed that tea being sold by 8 of the 11 biggest tea brands in India contained pesticides.
According to the report, the NGO claimed to have found 34 different pesticides in tea samples taken from the retail markets in India. Greenpeace tested 49 samples, of which 46 allegedly tested positive for one or more pesticide.
Aggrieved by this report, CCFI had last year sent a legal notice to Greenpeace asking it to substantiate its claims with concrete data. Greenpeace, however, refused to provide details of its study. Following this, CCFI filed a criminal complaint against Greenpeace India before a metropolitan magistrate court in suburban Bandra. The complaint is likely to come up for hearing on June 20. The complaint has been filed under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code against Greenpeace India and three members of the NGO. These sections provide punishment for defamation with imprisonment extending upto two years and fine.
“Greenpeace India and its members have made several defamatory statements against the tea industry as well as pesticides industry in the defamatory report. These remarks are highly defamatory to the manufacturers and marketers of pesticides in India who have suffered loss of reputation amongst their buyers, distributors and the public at large,” the complaint said.
It further says that Greenpeace has made defamatory imputations and innuendos against CCFI and its members. “The said imputations and innuendos have caused great injury to the impeccable reputation of CCFI. In spite of calling upon Greenpeace for retraction of the defamatory report, they have failed to do so,” the complaint said. CCFI has also written a letter to the Union Home Minister appealing to him to take strict action against Greenpeace India while alleging that the NGO is trying to derail progress in Indian agriculture.
[alert type=”e.g. warning, danger, success, info” title=””]“This is a blatant attempt to suppress critical information regarding food safety in our country which is of direct relevance to all Indian consumers.” – Greenpeace India[/alert]
Greenpeace, however, refuted the allegations and said they have not received any intimation about the complaint. “The report on tea was prepared after careful and extensive research over a period of a year. This research involved 49 samples of branded and packaged teas, which were purchased between June 2013 and May 2014 from retail outlets in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata,” the NGO said.
It added that the samples were sent to an independent, accredited laboratory to be tested for the presence of over 350 different pesticides and all necessary protocols were followed during the testing process.
“The purpose behind the report is to portray the use of pesticides at the farm level and also at the processed and packaged level in tea which millions of Indians consume every day since we are deeply concerned with the health and well-being of Indian consumers and also the sustainability of production in the tea sector which employs lakhs of small growers. There is absolutely no motive or intent to defame or harm the Indian tea industry,” Greenpeace said.
“We strongly object to and reject any and all allegations levelled against Greenpeace India and the contents of the report ‘Trouble Brewing’. This is a blatant attempt to suppress critical information regarding food safety in our country which is of direct relevance to all Indian consumers,” the NGO said.