Dhaka University professor ABM Faroque, who along with his colleagues found traces of antibiotics and detergent in pasteurised milk available in kitchen markets, said he was not against any local brand.
“We’re not against any brand or company. We want local dairy industry to flourish. We don’t want the country to turn into a market for foreign dairy products. It’s not possible to make us agents of foreign companies,” he said while addressing a discussion at Sagar-Runi Auditorium of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) in Dhaka.
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA), WBB Trust, Janaudyog, BCHRD, Subandhan, Doctors for Health and Environment, Poribesh Andolon Mancha, ASBD and Green Force organised the discussion on ABM Faroque’s research on pasteurised milk and its future development.
Professor Faroque, who works at DU's pharmaceutical technology department, is also a former director of Biomedical Research Centre. He found traces of antibiotics and detergents in 10 samples -- seven pasteurised and three unpasteurised -- of milk available in the market twice.
He was harshly criticised by the administration and various other quarters after the results of his research was published in media. They also questioned the quality of his research.
In a media statement, department’s chairman professor Sitesh Chandra Bachar said they will not take responsibility for the research findings.
"The department was not involved with the report and research," the statement read.
Regarding this, professor Faroque said, “I’m not an important person. I haven’t asked you to take the responsibility. The university has nothing to do with taking the responsibility. What a shame! No one told you to take the responsibility. Suddenly you appeared and said, I can’t take the responsibility.”
In a discussion at the Department of Livestock Services on 9 July, additional secretary Kazi Wasi Uddin harshly criticised the research conducted by professor ABM Faroque and his findings.
“The researcher has told the newsmen about the results of his research before it is published in any peer reviewed journal. His research was faulty and sampling was not correct,” he said.
Kazi Wasi Uddin also threatened to take legal actions against the scientist. “He has been served with a show-cause notice. Legal actions would be taken against him if he doesn’t answer to that by seven days.”
ABM Faroque said, “We’ve to put a stop to this culture of blaming. Government officials are belligerent now instead of taking the side of the people. Why they would say what is supposed to be told by the companies?”
“Only original researches are submitted to the peer reviewed journals. I conducted the research to find out whether water is mixed with milk. Traces of antibiotic are found in that research. It takes more than one or one and a half years to publish a research paper in peer reviewed journals. Had people forgiven me if I published the report after publishing it in the journal? No health related issues of any country have to come through peer reviewed journals,” he added.
Professor Faroque thought antibiotic and other hormones could be mixed with the milk for faulty processing.
He requested the companies to be more careful with the quality control at factories and packaging pasteurised milk.
“Following the guidelines of WHO is enough,” he said.
Doctors for Health and Environment president professor M Abu Sayeed said the research has to be done to find out from which level this hormone and antibiotic got mixed in the milk.
He also wondered how a secretary can criticise a scientist and teacher. “We must take into consideration the source of this attitude.”
POBA chairman Abu Naser Khan, who chaired the discussion, said, “We have been demonstrating for safe and poison-free food since 2005. But the recent incidents have made us worried.”