UNICRI illicit pesticides, organized crime and supply chain integrity report

A new Report on “Illicit pesticides, organized crime and supply chain integrity” has been published by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

The report, prepared by UNICRI and discussed by experts and practitioners during an Expert Workshop, aims at deepening the general knowledge on current trends related to illicit pesticides, identifying the actors and organized crime groups (OCGs) and networks involvement and their modus operandi, and understanding the supply chain vulnerabilities. Participants included high level representatives from Brazil, Ghana, Finland, Italy, Moldova, Vietnam, Basel Convention Regional Center in China, Uk Intellitech Security Group, EUROPOL, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Lund University, CropLife, Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Pesticides Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), World Customs Organisation, INTERPOL and Reconnaissance International.

I was honored to be invited to the workshop and to have the opportunity to contribute: a special thanks to entire UNICRI team, especially Vittoria Luda di Cortemilia, Programme Coordinator of UNICRI Environmental Crimes Programme – Emerging Crimes Unit – Elise Vermeersch, Project Associate, and Francesca Bosco, Senior Fellow. The report was drafetd by the UNICRI and Robyn Mace.

Illicit pesticides pose potentially serious threats to human safety and health, economies, businesses and farmers, the environment, and national security. For more than a decade, regulators, industry and farmers in numerous countries have been struggling with the growing market in illicit agro-chemicals and illicit plant protection products (PPPs). Worldwide estimates of trade in illegal and counterfeit markets range from 5-15% for most types of products and commodities. The European Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG-SANTE) indicates that about 10% of the European Union (EU) pesticides market is comprised of illegal pesticides, noting significant variation between Member States. Other sources have indicated that more than 25% of pesticide products in some EU Member States are counterfeit.

This policy paper is divided into four sections. The first presents an overview of the risks and impacts of illicit pesticide use on human health, livestock and food supplies, the environment, and the international agricultural trade.

The second section presents data and information on actors and agents, modus operandi, observed trends, product flows and regional profiles of the pesticides market. This section also considers trade, agricultural and food supply chain characteristics, security vulnerabilities, and protection and defense measures against organized crime groups and networks that have infiltrated international agrochemicals and pesticide markets.

The third section summarizes key regulatory issues, identifies obstacles and indicates concrete actions to prevent and combat the importation, sale and use of illicit pesticides, as well as the role of the actors involved in the control and securitization of the market.

The final section concludes with the role of UNICRI in addressing the issues of illicit pesticides, in particular in facilitating research, raising stakeholders’ awareness, delivering training and technical assistance programmes, supporting in capacity building activities and reinforcing national and international cooperation.

The report contains also an amazing list of cases happened in the last decade, divided by country.

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Organic labeling and counterfeiting

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Nicola Caputo (S&D)

3rd September 2014

Subject:  Labelling of organic foods and counterfeit products

As demand for organic and protected geographical indication (PGI) products rises dramatically, the quantity of fraudulent products on the market is rising with it: hundreds of products are being passed off as organic foods subject to rigorous checks but have in fact been falsely labelled and produced with complete disregard for the rules, using harmful pesticides, non-comestible liquids or even substances intended for use in animal feed.

1. How does the Commission intend to boost organic food production in an effort to satisfy demand without sacrificing quality?

2. In the context of the EU proposal on the labelling of organic products, what monitoring systems could be used to clamp down on counterfeit foods?

3. How does the Commission plan to tackle the increasing use of e-commerce to export ‘fake organic’ products quickly and on a huge scale, and to import counterfeit products?

Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission – 20th October 2014

1. The Common agricultural policy (CAP) includes measures to support organic production. From 2015, Member States will have to use 30% of direct payments to finance payments to farmers for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial for climate and environment. The practices of an organic farmer will be considered per se as complying with these so-called greening payments. Rural development framework includes opportunities to support increase of organic production, as a specific measure provides for Member States to support farmers converting to, or maintaining, organic production practices. The School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS) and the School Milk Scheme (SMS) present opportunities for organic farmers.

Research and innovation has a role to play in development of EU organics, and to this end the action plan for the future of Organic Production in the European Union(1) foresees actions under Horizon 2020 to support research and innovation. The European Innovation Partnership for agriculture will also foster the exchange of innovative methods and research results and make the link between science and practice.

2. The proposal allocates a budget for technical assistance measures by the Commission so as to implement a system of electronic certification, both for products imported and for EU operators. This will make forgery and fraud, currently found in paper documents, more difficult and will enhance traceability and control.

3. As part of its Action Plan1 the Commission will assist Member States in developing and implementing an organic fraud prevention policy, through targeted workshops to share good practices and the development of compendia/casebook of cases.

(1) COM(2014)179 final ; http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/documents/eu-policy/european-action-plan/act_en.pdf

(Source: European Parliament website)