Residues of the Agrochemicals on the Fruits and the Vegetables (F&V) are always concern of the consumers. The environmentalists and the agriculture scientists are also working on the same for last few years. The renowned agrochemical and pesticides manufacturing companies are also conducting the awareness and training programmes for the dealers and the farmers for the judicious use of agrochemicals and pesticides, so that no residues and traces of these are available on the F&V.

National University of Singapore has come out with the new technology using nanoparticles to detect traces of the pesticide in vegetable oil. Previously undetectable traces of a common vegetable pesticide have been extracted by local researchers using a new screening technique. They are using a new method, making use of tiny nanoparticles to grab molecules of pyrethroids, a group of synthetic pesticides that are used to protect crops from insects. The new method is 10 times more sensitive than conventional methods and can detect concentrations of the pesticide of as low as 0.02 nanograms in vegetables.

Yang, who is with the NUS Food Science and Technology Programme says, “This method can be used by food safety authorities to check the authenticity of 'Pesticide-Free' claims.”

The new method is also able to screen for pesticides in a given sample three times faster, as the nanoparticles are designed to zoom in on a particular molecule. Conventional methods of detection, such as through column filtration, are less specific and more time consuming.

Next, the team is looking at designing nanoparticles that can home in on other molecules, including toxins produced by fungus, said PhD student Yu Xi, who was also involved in the research. The team is currently in talks with vegetable farmers, distributors and a food safety facility on commercialising the technique. 

Their method makes use of tiny nanoparticles to grab molecules of pyrethroids, a group of synthetic pesticides that are used to protect crops from insects. In large amounts, the compound can cause cancer.

Lead researcher Yang Hongshun, a food scientist with the National University of Singapore, said consumers are now more concerned about chemicals in their food, and would want to know if there are traces of pesticides even if they are within safety limits.

The nanoparticles, which can be reused about 30 times, act as "micro magnets", attracting and separating the pyrethroid molecules from other molecules for analysis.

Professor William Chen, Director of the Food Science and Technology Programme at Nanyang Technological University, said the NUS team's technique is an improvement over current methods to detect pyrethroid-derived pesticides.


Chander Mohan

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi


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