The threat of illegal pesticides

Enforcement authorities warn that there is now an acute risk that dangerous, illegal products will find their way into other countries. (Photo: 'NortonClarke' flickr)
Enforcement authorities warn that there is now an acute risk that dangerous, illegal products will find their way into other countries. (Photo: 'NortonClarke' flickr)

Disappearance of illegal pesticides could pose serious threat to farmers in the UK

135 tons of illegal pesticides were seized at the end of 2010 in Cherkassy, Ukraine. Unfortunately, the majority of these products have 'disappeared' from official custody, following a pattern of seizure and onward sale that has become all too common in this part of the world.

Enforcement authorities warn that there is now an acute risk that dangerous, illegal products will find their way into other countries, which could include the UK.

Since legitimate pesticides go through years of testing to prove safety to human health and the environment, illegal pesticides are very risky; they do not go through any form of safety testing or even verification of their contents. Illegal or fake pesticides can pose a serious threat to human health and the environment, endanger good farming practices, result in the destruction of farmers' crops and livelihoods, and undermine the reputation of the agricultural sector.

The Crop Protection Association is facilitating joint action and heightened awareness within the farming industry to protect the European market and especially farmers from illegal pesticides.

Broadly speaking there are three types of illegal products that farmers may encounter:

  1. counterfeits in high quality packaging made to look like original products and very difficult to distinguish from original product by looking at the pack; they may have a different smell or colour from the same product previously purchased. 
  2. products with limited labelling or in different packaging from the original product, claiming to be the same as “product X”. These are clearly illegal and unregistered and should be reported immediately to the relevant authorities. 
  3. illegal parallel imports; some parallel imports are repackaged and this may pose a higher risk of containing non-original (i.e. illegal) manufacturers’ active ingredients. 

To avoid accidentally buying illegal or counterfeit pesticides, farmers should keep the following points in mind:

  • Always buy products from reputable stores/trustful suppliers or dealers and avoid internet deals or other offers that seem "too good to be true" as they might not be original high quality products. Beware of illegal mobile sellers.  
  • Ensure that the products have proper labels with complete instructions in English. This is a legal requirement and one of the guarantees of authentic product.  
  • Never buy pesticides from anyone who refuses to give a receipt naming the trademark of the products and the quantity purchased. 

Farmers who have any suspicions about the quality or origin of pesticides that they are offered or have purchased should immediately contact their local authorised pesticide retailer, local company representatives or the Chemicals Regulation Directorate on +44 (0)1904 455 775.