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Fake pesticides on the rise


18 Sep 2008


Sustainable Dev.
Health & Consumers
Agriculture & Food
Climate & Environment

Brussels, 17 September 2008. 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 campaign.

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.

To see the report, go to:

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) represents the crop protection industry interests at European level. Its members include all major companies and national associations across Europe. For more information:

For more information: Rocky Rowe, Trade Affairs Adviser, European Crop Protection Association, aisbl, Tel: + 44 7802 200 385; Switchboard : +32 (0)2 663 1550;


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