The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi breather for colas

New Delhi, Aug. 22: Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss today said the Centre for Science and Environment’s report on pesticides in colas was “inconclusive” and two Indian laboratories disagreed with the NGO’s findings.

Ramadoss’s statement assumes significance as several states, including Bengal, had said the Centre should take the final decision to ban Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

The minister’s remarks in the Lok Sabha drew a sharp response from CSE director Sunita Narain, who charged him with “colluding” with the cola companies.

In the House, while replying to a question, Ramadoss had termed Narain “a good friend” and thanked the CSE for its efforts. “We are not contradicting the report,” he said, but added: “The report is inconclusive.”

Ramadoss said his ministry had asked for more information from the CSE, which, he felt, was likely to be made available “in a matter of days”.

He said that after the CSE report was made public, states were asked to test samples of colas. So far, 14 states had lifted 200 samples. The samples sent to labs in Gujarat and Mysore had shown no pesticide residues above the “permissible” level.

There are no official “permissible” levels now as the draft norms are yet to be notified. The minister said comprehensive standards on pesticides in colas would be in place by early 2007.

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