Vegetables of Karachi.

Vegetable vendor splashing water to make vegetable look fresh at Empress Market, Saddar, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, pakistan.

These vegetables contain a much higher amount of carcinogenic metals including arsenic, cadmium and lead than considered fit for human consumption, according to international standards.

Why is it so? That’s a million dollar question. Here is why. These vegetables, including cauliflower, lemon, bitter ground (karela), sugar beet (chuqandar), green chili and cucumber are grown on a wide area in Malir NOT with fresh water but with sewer running in the city’s sewerage lines as well as untreated and highly toxic industry effluents.

You no longer need to eat unhealthy food to contract cancer, hepatitis and diseases of kidneys and liver besides those relating to stomach and intestines because this job is satisfactorily being performed by roadside stalls and other vendors selling these vegetables and we don’t even know since when.

These vegetables contain an abnormally high amount of arsenic and cadmium which are considered harmless if not cross the level of 0.03 ng/g and 0.05 ng/g respectively.

The findings of tests run by Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) revealed the following:

Cauliflower contained 41 percent higher amount of lead, 0.24 nano gram/gram arsenic and 0.372 ng/g cadmium. (Arsenic and cadmium are considered harmless if remain within the limit of 0.03 ng/g and 0.05 ng/g respectively.)

Lemon contained 21 percent higher amount of lead and 0.16 ng/g cadmium.

Karela (bitter ground) contained 48 percent higher amount of lead and 0.24 ng/g cadmium.

Chuqandar (sugar beet) contained 46 percent higher amount of lead, 0.18 ng/g arsenic and 0.69 ng/g cadmium.

Green chili contained 22 percent higher amount of lead.

Cucumber contained 41 percent higher amount of lead, 0.64 ng/g arsenic and 0.39 ng/g cadmium.

The growers of these vegetables are playing with the lives of citizens for earning an extra buck, as 20 percent of the total supply of vegetables for consumption of the city comes to the main Sabzi mandi from Malir.

There are no statistics available with us which can indicate for how long the citizens have been forced to eat these unhealthy vegetables.

It is highly regrettable that the citizens of the biggest city of the country are being fed poison by some barbarians whose sole aim is to make extra money regardless of how many deaths and miseries their practices must have caused so far and continue to do so.

Do we have any authorities that can put a check on this dangerous practice? Even if the answer is yes, what use are they?

Here is the most disconcerting fact that doesn’t leave us with much choice: you cannot tell Malir vegetables from those coming from other parts of the country

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