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Europol: Illicit Trafficking of Pesticides in Southern Europe and in


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There is a boom in illegal pesticide use in Europe. This was reported by Europol, which between January and April carried out a massive operation in 31 countries (25 in the EU and 6 outside the EU) that led to ten arrests and 1150 tons of illegal pesticides seized, informs DC News .

Operation Silver Ax focused on ports, airports and other points of entry where the import and export of illegal and counterfeit pesticides can be detected.

Investigations revealed

“an increase in the illegal trafficking of pesticides in southern Europe and the Black Sea area”,

it is stated in the report, according to Agrifood.

“The number of illegal pesticide cases in Turkey has increased significantly”,

continues Europol. However,

“China remains the number one country of origin”.

The increase in seizures of production equipment and raw materials shipped to Europe suggests an increase in counterfeiting activities even within the EU.

How are illegal pesticides introduced into the EU?

The first is the import of almost finished products in containers similar to well-known brands. Once imported, they just need to be labeled before entering the black market.

The second course of action is the import of individual ingredients, which are then used in the EU to manufacture pesticides. To reduce the chances of detection,

“chemical substances are used only in the final stage of production in places where the packaging is also counterfeited”,

explains Europol.

Another modus operandi is the abusive use of the parallel trade system, which facilitates approval procedures for pesticides sold in the EU.

Under this system, a plant protection product authorized in one Member State (the Member State of origin) may, after the granting of a parallel trade authorisation, be placed on the market or used in another Member State.

Some criminals abuse this system by introducing illegally produced plant protection products into one Member State, fraudulently claiming that they have already been approved in another Member State and thereby eliminating the need for further authorisations.

“Despite the low prices, unauthorized plant protection products have a very high cost both for the environment and for public health, but also for the agricultural sector. Fake and illegal pesticides can harm farmers and their livelihoods and can also harm bee colonies,”

says Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol.

“The presence of counterfeit and illegal pesticides is harming Europe’s ability to achieve its sustainable agriculture goals, jeopardizing Farm to Fork goals. Silver Ax is an important initiative that we are proud to support. We need to continue to communicate about these products so that both farmers and legitimate companies recognize and reject the criminal offers that threaten sustainable food production.”

said Olivier de Matos, managing director of CropLife Europe.

Emil Dumitru, PNL deputy, spoke about the need for widely consumed plants to be treated with different protective substances. He also spoke about organic products and their inability to cover a large market:

“There is a big discussion in the public space vis-à-vis plant protection products. And I, when I caught a cold the other day, had to take a paracetamol. So are the plants, if we don’t give them anything, the grain of wheat you harvest may be infested with some Fusarium, which are harmful for human consumption. I’m not saying that organically grown products are bad, just that they are a niche that will never satisfy a broad consumer market.

Regarding herbicides and all plant protection products, some of them having the weakest toxicity group, because it reached a very low level worldwide, Romania consumes 0.6 kilograms of pesticides per hectare, while Holland uses somewhere around 14.6 kilograms. We said that those who are lower should reach the EU average, and those who are higher should go down to the European Union average”,

said Emil Dumitru.