Largest-ever haul of illegal pesticides seized in Europe

Europol operation saw checks being carried out across 27 countries, including Malta

Europol has seized 360,000 tonnes of illegal and counterfeit pesticides in an operation involving 27 countries, including Malta
Europol has seized 360,000 tonnes of illegal and counterfeit pesticides in an operation involving 27 countries, including Malta

Around 360 tonnes of illegal or counterfeit pesticides have been seized in Europe, in an operation coordinated by Europol which saw checks being carried out in 27 countries, including Malta.

The seizure, the largest-ever of its kind, involved a 20-day operation, “SILVER AXE II”, with inspections taking place at the major seaports, airports, land borders and production and repacking facilities in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Italy.

The operation - which took place with the support of the European Anti-Fraud Office - focused on the sale and importation of counterfeit pesticides, including infringements of intellectual property rights such as trademarks, patents and copyright, as well as targeting the illegal trade of pesticides, Europol said in a statement.

Pesticides are one of the most regulated products in the world today, and can only be traded and used in the European Union if the products are proven safe and authorised.

During the action phase, Europol experts exchanged and analysed data received from the participating countries, liaised with stakeholders from 43 private companies involved in the production and commerce of pesticides and provided on-the-spot support on request. OLAF, for its part, provided Europol and the participating countries with information on 180 suspicious shipments of pesticides transhipped in the EU

European Crop Protection Association director Graeme Taylor said the EU is estimated to make up almost 14% of the global illegal and counterfeit pesticides market, which causes an issue not only for companies whose products are being counterfeited, but more significantly because it poses a risk to health and the environment, since such illegal products are not subject to any of the rigorous safety tests or regulation that authorised pesticides are.

Counterfeit and illegal pesticides cost the EU €1.3 billion in losses, however, they also come as a cost to health, due to the effect they can have on the food chain and consequently on the health of consumers, Paul Maier, from the European Union Intellectual Property Office, said.

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