International Science Programme (ISP)

Dr Mohammad Shoeb - Food safety in Bangladesh

Meet Dr Mohammad Shoeb, head of the ISP supported chemistry research group at Dhaka University, working to ensure safe food and environment in Bangladesh.

Food safety is a burning issue in Bangladesh due the use of unauthorized toxic chemicals in food production, preservation and storage - putting both farmers and consumers at risk. The country has signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), aiming to restrict and ultimately stop the production and use of them.  

- We are testing the levels of POPs in different fruit, fish, and vegetables sold on markets in Bangladesh. Different chemicals are used for different foods; therefore we constantly need to develop new testing methods. Currently we are working on how to identify toxins inserted into watermelon, used to enhance their color.

To make a difference, Dr Shoeb points to the importance of informing and influencing policy makers, through dissemination of research findings.  The group has had the opportunity to contribute to the Bangladesh Food Act 2013, which now is a food safety law ensuring people’s right to access safe food. The group was also part in the creation of the Formalin Control Act 2015, a licensing system for the import and use of Formalin, used to preserve fresh food in Bangladesh.

- We try to increase the awareness and spread knowledge on the hazards of pesticide use through organizing workshops and seminars with farmers and the public, as many are unaware of the effects they have on the health and the environment. Take DDT as an example - initially we don’t know the effects of using it, now we know. Our group is working to spread such knowledge.

Dr Shoeb together with Swedish Institute and ISP alumni at a networking event organized at University of Dhaka, 4  May 2017.