Industry warning over contaminated food in Europe

The website http://www.illegalpesticides.eu looks a lot like an environmental group website but it is in fact a site set up by the European Crop Protection Association, the association of the pesticide industry in Europe. The industry message:

  • The global trade in fake pesticides is increasing year after year, presenting very real dangers to human health, the environment and the economy.
  • 5-7 % of Europe’s plant protection products are illegal. This number is increasing year after year.
  • The annual market of counterfeit and illegal plant protection products is estimates at € 700 million – this might just be the tip of the iceberg.

The European Crop Protection Association categorizes counterfeit pesticides as:

  • Sophisticated counterfeits (packaging and labelling identical to legitimate products).
  • Illegal parallel imported products, masquerading as legitimate but containing inferior materials.
  • Low quality copies, often with plain or no labelling, unregistered and untested.

The industry describe the counterfeit pesticicide industry as follows:

  1. Illegal pesticides are most often produced in Asia. Production operations vary, but in all cases they do not comply with the same strict quality and safety standards as in Europe.
  2. Illegal products are shipped to the EU by air or sea freight. They are usually falsely identified and ignore safety standards for transport and handling. Highly toxic and flammable substances are routinely transported without regard to the safety of crews, handlers or the general public.
  3. Products are distributed throughout Europe by organised criminals, many of whom are involved in narcotics trafficking, smuggling and prostitution.
  4. Illegal pesticides are used on farms around the EU, threatening consumers’ health, the environment and farmers’ livelihoods. They are trafficked through commercial distributors or directly by criminal gangs.

The industry provides no data on how these counterfeit pesticides are used in Europe. However, on a generic level GallonDaily draws the conclusion that if at least 5-7% of pesticides used in European plant-based agriculture are illegal, then it is a not unreasonable assumption to consider that 5-7% of European plant-based foodstuffs, presumably not including organic foods, which are more closely regulated, may contain residues of illegal pesticides. Buyer beware!

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