Illegal Agrochemicals in China
Jun. 3, 2013
Why are illegal agrochemicals a problem?
Generally, illegal products are cheaper on account of the absence of active ingredient or the use of older chemistry or poor quality formulations, driving high profit margins and thereby attractive incentives in the trade. Distributors and retailers of illegal agrochemicals are lured by short-term profits, neglecting the serious environmental, social and financial impacts. The production and distribution of illegal agrochemicals is prohibited by law, and those involved can face fines, loss of business license and reputation, and even jail.
Farmers are not always aware that they are buying illegal agrochemicals. Counterfeit products are by definition very difficult to identify without close examination and/or testing, and the criminals who produce and distribute these products employ sophisticated techniques to avoid detection. The consequences can be very severe as even buying illegal agrochemicals is prohibited by law. Even if customers claim they were not aware of what they were buying, they may still have to pay a high fine or even spend time in jail.
As illegal agrochemicals are not officially tested and approved, they can cause crop damage, poor efficacy and even pose severe health risks to farmers’ health. Growers need to repurchase original products for retreatment, or in worse case may face long term financial and environmental impacts as a result of soil residues that leave land unproductive. Illegal pesticides pose severe health risks to farmers who are applying them.
The transport of illegal pesticides regularly ignores international labeling requirements designed to ensure safety during transport which will bring shipping risks. For example, highly toxic and flammable substances are routinely transported without regard to the safety of staff, handlers or the general public.
The proliferation in illegal agrochemicals is a disincentive for plant protection companies to continue to invest considerable time and money in the development of new technologies that can help assure global food security and alleviate hunger and poverty. Legitimate manufacturers of genuine pesticides spend millions of dollars on the development, testing, trials, quality control, and registration of a product before it enters the marketplace, unlike the criminals who produce and sell illegal agrochemicals who take shortcuts and put the illegal agrochemicals for profit without any heed for safety in the marketplace.
What can be done?
The plant science industry is committed to innovate and deliver highly regulated products to the world’s farmers and thereby increase food security. Improved scrutiny by police, customs and regulators of the implementation and enforcement of intellectual property rights, and more transparency in the international trade of pesticides and active ingredients, is essential to sustain the incentive to innovate and ensure the products are traded and used in a safe, responsible manner.
CropLife CHINA believes that the responsible and safe use of advanced plant science technology is one of the key driving forces of growth that will raise industry standard and efficiency thereby contributing to sustainable agriculture in China.
1. A coordinated industry approach
CropLife and other organizations are united in the battle against illegal agri-input such as ICAMA (The institute for the Control of Agrochemicals, Ministry of Agriculture), OECD(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) , and Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)
2. Raising awareness
CropLife CHINA (CLC) has initiated proactive advocacy through a campaign to increase awareness and engage more stakeholders.
• A Farmer Awareness Leaflet was delivered to authorities in September 2012. The flyer has been well-received by officials and media including ICAMA, CCPIA, AgroGoods Herald, and Farmer’s Daily etc.
• CLC has produced a publication for the industry to help in the correct identification of illegal agrochemicals. This was distributed to AICs, ICAMA, NATESC, CCPIA, CLA, CLC IPR Committee, Japan IPG and other industry organisations
• CLC regularly attend agrochemical fairs in China to promote awareness of illegal agrochemicals and to ensure compliance of intellectual property rights.
Ninety-four infringements were disclosed during the 2013 Shanghai Agrochemical, an increase on 2012. All suspected infringements were solved at the site (For example, changed the advertisements and leaflets).
3. Resourcing for Training and Market Inspection
Farmers, agri-input dealers, and law-enforcement officials, such as custom officers and inspectors have been trained to gain knowledge on technical identification of fakes from genuine ones, to further promote the awareness of illegal agrochemicals in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Fujian, and Dandong.
The network extended to main provinces and some key prefectures.
4. Transparency in trade
CropLife INTERNATIONAL supports the positive steps of ICAMA in their mission to stop illegal activities in the trade of agricultural chemicals. CropLife International also supports ICAMA’S efforts in international cooperation, so as to protect the reputation of the China AI and Pesticide exporting industry, and we are all working together to meet this goal.
The “Know Your Customer” campaign is designed to raise awareness with the transport and logistics industry.
5. Effective Regulation and Enforcement
• Nationwide Raids (April 2012)
Ministry of Public Security conducted a number of simultaneous raids on illegal production facilities in a number of provinces on April 24th, 2012. This was a highly successful campaign with coverage by five media outlets including the most influential websites of the State Council, the Ministry of Public Security; the People’s Network, and CCTV, who made a special program on CCTV Channel 1 at the golden time.
• New Pesticide Act 2013
We are encouraged by plans to increase penalties for production and trade in illegal Agrochemicals in the New Pesticide Act.
CropLife China – Our commitment
For China, illegal agrochemicals pose a significant threat to Government and Industry efforts to bring innovation and technology to Modernise Chinese agriculture.
Our industry is important in a country short of arable land and thirsting for quality and safe food. CropLife is committed to working with all key stakeholders to safeguard the image and build the sustainability of our industry, protecting the interests of farmers, consumers and environment. Nothing less than a coordinated industry approach is required for success in fighting illegal agrochemicals.
CropLife CHINA is a member of the regional organization CropLife ASIA, which falls under the global organization CropLife INTERNATIONAL.
CropLife China consists of following R & D based MNCs companies:
Arysta LifeScience, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Chemtura, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, FMC, Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, Monsanto, Nippon Soda, Nissan Chemical Industries, Sumitomo Chemical, Syngenta.
CropLife CHINA and its member companies have been endeavored to support and contribute to the efforts of phasing out high toxic OPs, improving/enforcing HSE standards in factories and at distribution channel, producing CPP with high-efficacy, low toxicity and low residue, in order to contribute to the sustainable development of the industry.
As a regional unit of CropLife International, a global federation of the plant science industry in over 91 countries, CropLife supports the work of 15 member associations and is led by eight dedicated member companies such as BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow Agrosciences, DuPont, FMC, Monsanto, Sumitomo and Syngenta, and two associate companies at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development in Asia. CropLife members are agricultural businesses offer customers a wide range of products and extensive educational and technical support to practices to advocate a safe, secure food supply.
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