Some 360 tonnes of illegal or counterfeit pesticides were seized in Europe as a result of Operation Silver Axe III, an annual operation coordinated by Europol with the support of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
Run over the course of 20 days, the operation saw checks being carried out at major seaports, airports and land borders, as well as production and repacking facilities in 27 European countries, including the UK.
During this period, Europol experts exchanged and analysed data received from the participating countries and liaised with stakeholders involved in the production of pesticides to identify suspicious items.
Wil van Gemert, Europol’s deputy executive director of operations says: “The record volume of hazardous substances seized this year is an important step in stemming the flow of potentially lethal products into the EU marketplace. The complexity and scale of this fraud means cooperation needs to happen across borders with a multi-agency approach, working hand in hand with the private sector”.
Graeme Taylor, director of public affairs for the European Crop Protection Association, says: “A series of recent reports have highlighted the growing threat from counterfeit and illegal pesticides: in the EU it is estimated that they make up almost 14 per cent of the market.
“This is not just an issue for the companies, whose products are being counterfeited, but more significantly poses a risk to health and the environment as they are not subject to any of the rigorous safety tests or regulation that authorised pesticides are. We are pleased to see the continued success of Operation Silver Axe, and are grateful to Europol for taking a lead on this important issue.”