Vijai Sardesai, agriculture minister, during his address at the 31st National Conference in Goa on Thursday, stated that Goans are avoiding buying fish due to fear of formaldehyde.

He added that fish imported from the east coast of the country was credibly laced with formaldehyde, which is "carcinogenic" or can cause cancer. 

The minister spoke on 'How safe is the food we eat?' in Goa, where he asserted that it has become a major problem in Goa as fish is their staple diet and they used to receive it from the east coast. The west coast is shut during monsoon for fishing. "That fish, which was imported from the east coast was supposedly laced with formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative," he said. 

Sardesai noted that the retail fish markets in Goa, especially in Margao, which was built by the state government on a Dubai model, is deserted because people are hesitant to buy it.

Sardesai's Goa Forward Party (GFP) is one of the major regional constituents of the BJP-led coalition government in the state and the other is Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP).

The minister stated that the state government has approached the Centre requesting a laboratory under the supervision of the Quality Council of India in Goa. "I am of the view that we have to ban imports till such a laboratory is set up in Goa because safety of food is an issue...whether the food we are consuming is food or poison is a question now," said the agriculture minister at the 31st national conference on 'Agro-Tourism, Doubling of Farmers Income, Economics of Production and marketing of Cashew and Coconuts'.