Food defense requirements in EU?

During the next meeting of the ENVI Committee (Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the EU Parliament), on 27-28th February, there will be an extremely interesting exchange of views with the EU Commission about the food defense topic.

This is a very very preliminary step and no specific initiative at EU level at the moment is foreseen, but for sure it could be a starting point in that sense.

Here below an extract from the ENVI Committee report, explaining where do we stand now:

“Food defense means the protection of food from intentional contamination or adulteration by biological, chemical, physical, or radiological agents. It includes measures regarding prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery from intentional acts of food contamination.

The WHO, in 2007, identified intentional food contamination as one of the main global health threats of the 21st century and stated that food has become an instrument for terrorist attacks.

In the European food industry, food defense is a rather new concept, unlike in the USA where the concept of food defense originated and where it is extensively regulated. In the past years, incidents such as terrorist attacks and food fraud have contributed to the development and implementation of food defense systems in at least some Member States.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2001 in the US, the “Health and Security Committee” was set up in the EU. This group was given a formal status and assigned specific tasks in 2013, when Decision 1082/2013/EU on serious cross-border threats was adopted. At global level, the Commission also participates in the Global Health Security Initiative on CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) threats, working closely with the WHO and the G7+ states to create a global strategy for preparedness and response to potential health threats.

However, there is no comprehensive regulation of food defense at EU level. In view of the rising importance of the issue, the objective of this exchange of views is to discuss existing EU and Member State policies and to hear the Commission’s point of view in relation to possible EU action in this area.”

(Source: ENVI Committee, European Parliament)

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.