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UK agriculture should acknowledge threat of counterfeit pesticides

Posted 11 October 2013

The UK cannot afford to ignore counterfeit pesticides - is the warning from experienced criminologist and postgraduate researcher, Chris Sambrook.

Chris is part of a research team at Harper Adams University who are investigating the threat that counterfeit crop protection products pose to agriculture.

Recent press coverage of a suspected case of a counterfeit pesticide on a UK farm has turned the spotlight onto this crime problem.

Chris, 52 from Oxford, said: “Worldwide fake crop protection products are a major counterfeiting problem – this illegal industry is believed to be worth around $5.8 Billion a year.

“In some markets within the EU, it is thought that as much as 25percent of the pesticides sold originate from the black market and are either substandard or counterfeit versions.

“It’s not likely that this problem exists to the same extent in the UK, but this doesn’t mean it is a problem which we can safely ignore.

“This recent case illustrates that UK agriculture may be the target of organised crime gangs who are largely responsible for importing and distributing counterfeit products, including fake pesticides.”

Research conducted by the team at Harper Adams, which includes Dr Richard Byrne, a specialist in Rural Security, and agronomist Dr Martin Hare, will include interviews with key industry players and others with strong professional interests in the problem, such as the police and legislators.

Chris hopes that the research will identify key risk factors and help the industry to reinforce their current counter-measures.

“Counterfeit crop protection products are unlike many other fake goods. Not only do they represent a significant loss to the national economy, as do all counterfeits, but if they find their way into the marketplace, and particularly onto farms, then they also carry significant risks both to the environment and to public health,” added Chris.

World-leading crop protection company, Syngenta, and Thames Valley Police are collaborating with Harper Adams University on this study. As part of an ongoing Rural Crime Strategy, Thames Valley Police, alongside industry, are developing a response to this type of crime.

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