These counterfeits range from sophisticated copies of patented products to low-quality fakes with little or no resemblance to the original. And it is a problem that is getting worse every year, according to the European Crop Protection Association. ‘Clearly there are risks when products that have not been properly studied or evaluated are being brought onto the market,’ said Roger Doig, President of the ECPA.
Several recent incidences highlight the extent of the problem. In February this year, a counterfeit herbicide used in Italy was found to contain quantities of a potentially dangerous insecticide. In 2004, hundreds of hectares of wheat were wiped out in France, Italy and Spain because of a fake herbicide. And a 2002 study of supermarket produce in the UK found traces of eight illegal and potentially dangerous compounds.
‘Generally, speaking, it would be wrong to blame farmers [for buying the products] as in many cases they firmly believe they are buying legitimate products. We’ve had cases where only after farmers have come to us with a complaint have we identified the product as counterfeit,’ says Doig.
DEFRA is currently investigating two companies suspected of acting illegally. Jean Train, spokesperson for the Pesticides Safety Directorate, told C&I “We are in the process of gathering evidence with intention to prosecute”. This will add to the list of successful action PSD have already taken against companies dealing in illegal pesticides. Twenty-four companies were issued with warnings in October at the British Crop Protection Conference in Glasgow for illegally promoting products.
But Peter Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Crop Protection Association (CPA) is quick to point out that the UK is ahead of the game. Counterfeit products account for 3% of the UK market, compared to 5-7% in the EU. ‘The CPA actively encourages enforcements to prevent illegal imports. We recommend that farmers buy pesticides from a reliable source. CPA members sign a code of practice,’ he says.
The EU crop protection market is worth €7.5bn. Counterfeits cost the EU between €21m and €30m in lost taxes.
The ECPA recently launched a pan-European Anti-Counterfeit Programme, in an effort to get governments and regulators to use their powers to enforce regulatory policies.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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