Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader said here on Monday that the Centre would not ban consumption of arecanut.

Though the Opposition party had said that an affidavit had been filed seeking a ban on arecanut in the Supreme Court, the Centre had filed no such affidavit, he said.

Quoting a report of Cancer Biology Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, JNU, the Minister said it evaluated the carcinogenicity of different arecanut preparations in mice and found that boiled, dried and processed arecanut is not harmful for consumption and does not contain any carcinogens.

He forwarded a representation he received from Sachin Meega, vice-president, Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Congress Cell, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, requesting an intervention in the matter of “halting adverse propaganda and disinformation campaign against arecanut consumption”.

A release quoted the request as saying that arecanut is consumed by all people across class, caste, religion, age and gender and that Karnataka produces a large amount of arecanut. Mr. Khader said, “We are not against areca and we will not be against areca.”

Mr. Khader favoured sale of “good quality gutkha”. He said he was against bad quality gutkha and that good quality gutkha “as made in the olden days” was all right. Adding nicotine, chemicals and gutkha to inferior quality arecanut “from Bangladesh” was bad and gutkha manufacturers were making a mockery of the ban on gutkha by making “tobacco-free pan masala” comprising two packets, allowing consumers to continue eating gutkha, he lamented.

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