OPINION is divided among scientists over restrictions on Khesari dal because of some adverse effects due to of presence of ODAP, an organic compound. Mukul Das, a scientist with the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, says Khesari generally won’t have ill effect on normal persons but could be dangerous in situations like deficiency diseases.
“It is a well laid down fact of science that BOAA (ODAP) can cause neurolathyrism. While consumption of Khesari may not be generally harmful for normal persons, but situations like undernourishment, low exposure to manganese content and deficiency of vitamin C, can lead to lathyrism,” Das said.
He cautions that the pulse could be harmful, especially for children. “Who is going to ensure that Khesari will not be consumed in compromising situations,” he asked.
Das cited the example of lathyrism in countries like Bangladesh and Ethiopia in support of his claim. But now that the ban has been lifted, Das has an advice: “It should not be given to children in whom blood-brain barrier is very weak, and a compromising situation should be avoided.”
There are others who are in favour of the banning this variety of legumes.