Fake pesticides on the rise
Brussels – A report released today by the European Crop Protection Association shows that fake pesticides are increasingly present in most European countries. These
illegally-traded pesticides are completely untested and commonly contain toxic elements that pose significant threats to farmers, consumers and the environment. The report: “Counterfeit
Pesticides Across Europe: Facts, Consequences and Actions Needed”, gives the most extensive expose of the counterfeit problem, its impacts and required solutions. It provides both a
macro-EU analysis, as well as country specific information for seventeen countries.
The report’s main findings are:
1. Fake pesticides are present in most countries. Untested, unregulated and unapproved pesticides are present in most, if not all European countries to a greater or lesser degree. 5%-7%
of the pesticide market is affected by counterfeiting and illegal trade. In some regional hot spots, 25% or more of products are fakes. There is growing evidence that counterfeits are
increasingly produced for and distributed by organised criminal gangs.
2. China is a major source of counterfeits. Increasing amounts of counterfeit pesticides are imported into the EU from China. 86% of all types of counterfeited goods seized in 2006 at
external EU borders came from China. Chemical substances are supplied and exported from China with no or little controls. Legitimate China to EU imports increased by about 380% in
the last 7 years, growing 8 times faster than average worldwide pesticides imports into the EU.
3. Regulatory and political activity is not addressing the problem. Despite more and more regulation related to pesticide use, less and less attention is devoted to enforcement of
regulations. Urgent actions are required by policy makers, government enforcement agencies, supranational entities, distribution and supply chains, farmers and the food chain to slow
the increase. More efforts are needed focusing on the monitoring and control of plant protection products used and pan European coordination on enforcement activities.
4. Fake pesticides pose major threats. In addition to the significant health threats to farmers, consumers and the environment, they cause economic and reputation damage to
farmers, governments and the food production and delivery chain, diminish public confidence in the regulatory process and deter investment for the future.
The report explains why the fight against fakes is hindered by low recognition by politicians of the extent and complexity of the problem, weak national enforcement, limited European
leadership and inadequate judicial frameworks and penalties.
“For the first time, we have a picture of the extent and impact of fake pesticides across Europe – and the picture is frightening”, said Rocky Rowe, ECPA lead on the anti-counterfeit
To illustrate the different aspects of the counterfeit problem, 18 separate case studies are presented in the report. These include:
• cases of illegal repackaging in France and parallel trade abuse in Germany,
• examples of successful prosecutions in Greece and the UK,
• examples of farmer’s fields destroyed in Italy, France and Spain,
• illegal trade between Poland and Germany under the guise of parallel trade,
• examples of illegal warehouses in Poland and Ukraine with 500 tons of fakes,
• an example of mass spray of illegal pesticides on peppers for export in Spain.
In one example, fake pesticides were packaged in vegetable cooking oil containers. Boxes containing 5-litre bottles disguised as normal vegetable cooking oil were found prior to
distribution. Had consumers used the “oil”, serious illness or death would have resulted.
“Pesticide companies are devoting significant efforts to fighting this problem but cannot stand alone. Counterfeiting pesticides is criminal. Enforcement and political solutions are
essential to protect the public”, said ECPA’s Director General Friedhelm Schmider.
ECPA report “Counterfeit Pesticides Across Europe: Facts, Consequences and Actions