Global Counterfeit Pesticide Problems on the Rise

02/01/2009 02:00:00 AM

In terms of pesticide manufacturing, China has seen big growth in terms of capacity, with an average growth of 12.5 percent per year from 2000 to 2007 in tonnage. There are more than 2,000 Chinese companies formulating pesticides and more than 400 involved in manufacturing. Active substances are readily supplied and exported with no controls to countries around the world where they are formulated and labeled for onward distribution. Likewise, sophisticated copies of proprietary products are manufactured and shipped with fraudulent documentation to countries around the world, with a growing emphasis on Europe.

Types of Counterfeit and Illegal Pesticides

The nature and extent of counterfeit products and illegal trade varies per market and can originate from many different sources in many different forms. The three main areas of illegal activity are:

  • Fakes: containing anything, from water or talc to diluted and outdated or obsolete stocks, including banned or restricted materials. Some fakes may provide a degree of biological control as they sometimes contain an illegal and untested copy of the proprietary active substance. These products are often sold in simple packs, such as plain bottles with minimal labeling describing their use and no health and environmental precautions.
  • Counterfeits: sophisticated copies of legitimate branded products usually with high-quality labeling and packaging. Most will contain a copy of the original active ingredient; however, its biological efficacy is often diminished due to high levels of impurities of manufacturing and process by-products. Such products, which are often so well done that it is difficult for experts to distinguish between legitimate and counterfeit ones, are sold to agricultural producers and only show adverse side effects such as crop damage after application.
  • Illegal parallel imports: legitimate parallel traded products substituted with illegal generic copies, repackaged and sold as legitimate products. Parallel trade of plant protection products has been a contentious issue for several years. However, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice has led to the re-adoption of “common origin” thus precluding the legitimate substitution of an equivalent registered product. The repackaging of plant protection products is still contested by the plant protection industry. They say repackaging compromises the products’ integrity and allows for contamination and the use of unacceptable packaging leading to an inferior product that may cause harm to crops and pose risks to consumers.

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