A senior official of Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has threatened to take legal action against the Dhaka University researchers if they fail to show their study published in peer-reviewed journal.
“I ask the researchers whether they have published their research in peer-reviewed journal. If you published it, you must produce it to the ministry within the next seven days. If you don’t, legal action will be taken against you,” said Kazi Wasi Uddin, additional secretary to the ministry, at a discussion yesterday in Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
DLS and the National Dairy Development Forum (NDDF) organised the event on development of dairy sector and safe milk production.
Faculties of the Department of Dairy Science of Bangladesh Agricultural University, DLS officials, representatives from local milk processors, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority were present at the event.
The discussion was held two weeks after nine researchers of Pharmacy Faculty and Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Dhaka said they found detergent and antibiotics in some samples of milk collected from markets, raising health concerns.
Prof ABM Faruque, director of Biomedical Research Centre, unveiled the findings on June 25 after testing seven samples of widely-sold pasteurised milk and three samples of unpasteurised milk.
Following the release of the findings, the High Court sought the report from the DU researchers.
Yesterday at the discussion, DLS refuted the findings while a professor of Dairy Science Department of BAU said some information was misleading, and sample size taken by the DU researchers was too small to give a national picture.
Ministry official Wasi questioned the motive of the research, saying that the dairy industry is growing and at this moment, such findings would hurt the sector.
He said there is international protocol of publishing research findings. “It must be published in peer-reviewed journal,” he said.
“After sending a paper for publication, the number of samples, methodology, and procedures are examined. Stakeholders should be consulted for opinions before publishing. And then they should publish the study in international journal. After publishing, if you think it is necessary to circulate the information, you can organise press conference to do so,” said Wasi.
Wasi said researchers of Dhaka University were invited at the open discussion. They declined to attend, he claimed, replying to reporters.
Director General of DLS, Hiresh Ranjan Bhowmik, cited studies done by Milk Vita, Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, a joint one by the DLS and Consumers Association of Bangladesh’s Chattogram branch, and said, “We have not found anything similar to the result they got. We got results of all [samples] in line with tolerable limit.”
Meanwhile, Prof ABM Faruque, director of DU’s Biomedical Research Centre, said he could not attend the event as he had previously-scheduled engagement.
Contacted, he said it takes between one and one-and-a-half years for a study to be published in a journal.
Publishing findings related to public health is a global norm, he said.
“I have done this from my moral obligation and from a sense of duty to the public. There was no commercial interest or intention to malign anyone,” said Faruque.