Control Formalin or face Cancer!

By Dr Oscar Rebello
13 July 2018 13:59 IST

No Goan must have been spared the sheer horror and revulsion on learning that our beloved fish is laced with formalin and then sold to us.

We Goans, of course, will love to panic, curse and abuse at this sorry state of affairs and then after letting off a little steam, get back to business as usual.

For any long term solution, however, these may be a few tips we could use after our familiar hyperventilating (if we have the patience and tenacity to address the problem).

  1. Whatever the spin, formaldehyde is a proven carcinogen. No need not be a rocket scientist to understand why Cancer cases are galloping in our country, sloshed as we are in chemicals.
  2. Read this carefully. Formaldehyde is not just used to increase the shelf life of fish but every food stuff, vegetables and fruits included. So no, this ain't the problem restricted to “sinful" non-vegetarian only.
  3. The only authority who should be given absolute powers to detect and prosecute rogue traders must be the FDA and only the FDA... Vijay Sardesai may be a master of defection, not detection. So ministers, bureaucrats indeed fish traders must not interfere with due process of science. The FDA must stand up and be counted.
  4. The familiar argument of livelihoods will come into focus sooner than later...This horror story is about OUR lives, not livelihoods.
  5. Stake holders like hoteliers and restaurant owners must lobby to get all scientific facts on the table and permanent solutions if any... Our tourism is about death by drugs, sex, alcohol and selfies... Killing our guests with seafood is now a fantastic new kettle of fish.
  6. There are kits which if used on fish (and veggies) after being thawed, can detect formaldehyde... purple is positive, yellow is safe when you touch the kit to the fish. Let's use them at home.
  7. Simple washing of foods in water that is mixed with vinegar can potentially eliminate formaldehyde (now you know the secret of Vindalho and Balchao).
  8. And finally this is one issue that can truly unite all Goans... No Konkani, no Marathi, no Hindu, no Christian, no Muslim, no Bhandari Samaj... This is about us messing with mother nature and our staple diet... Only a truthful and honest assessment of this problem and a thoroughly scientific - and only scientific - solution to it is imperative.

Post Script: How brilliant would it be if the high court could take suo moto cognisamce of this issue, and monitor the progress of the solutions if any.

There has to be a lasting solution...Trust me either we are all FORMAL(ly)IN or Cancer will knock us FORMAL(ly) OUT!!!

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Dr Oscar Rebello

Dr Oscar Rebello is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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