Counterfeit and illegal pesticides are a danger to farmers' health, their crops, and the environment. "Therefore, as the crop protection industry, we are strongly involved in stopping these illicit pesticides from entering Europe and being applied to crops. Our network consists of member companies and country associations and we also work closely with our regional and global organizations," writes CropLife Europe.
1. Raising awareness of illegal pesticides
One of our most important goals is to help protect farmers from buying counterfeit or illegal pesticides. Farmers can be defrauded by criminals offering counterfeit/illegal pesticides through a variety of different channels. We run a number of campaigns dedicated to farming communities to warn them about risks associated with buying counterfeit or illegal pesticides and to show them how to purchase authentic, registered pesticides. We have built dedicated websites to support farmers in Poland, Greece, Lithuania, and Bulgaria. Our members are also reaching farmers with social and printed media. We have developed communications tools such as videos (including animations), posters, leaflets in all EU languages. We are also active in countries outside the EU, for example in United Kingdom, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. Each year, our network conducts training for more than 50 000 farmers across the European Union. In some countries, for example in Italy, Spain, and Greece we run toll-free information lines where information can be reported anonymously about suspicious distribution or use of counterfeit/illegal products. We also cooperate with all stakeholders in the food chain, such as farmer organizations, producers, suppliers, and retailers. A very important learning from our years of anti-counterfeit activity is that cooperation and active participation by industry and public authorities is key to the success of communication and awareness campaigns.
2. Cooperation with law enforcement and food safety authorities
The fight against counterfeit/illegal pesticides is a fully collaborative effort with all legitimate stakeholders involved. Each stakeholder brings resources, expertise and contributions where it is needed, making the whole process as effective as possible. That is why we organize seminars for police, customs, and food safety authorities to help them to identify counterfeit products and exchange best practices. The results of cooperation on the EU level can bring results such as those produced in operation Silver Axe. It is a Europol coordinated action targeting counterfeit and illegal pesticides. The joint effort involves authorities from 35 countries, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and European Commission`s DG Sante as well as Crop Life Europe. Our network provides technical knowledge as well as sharing intelligence. This year’s edition, Silver Axe VI, resulted in 12 arrests and seizures of 1,203 tons of illegal/counterfeit pesticides.
3. Closing legislative loopholes
The third pillar of our strategy against counterfeit and illegal pesticides is improving legislation at EU and national levels to make work of responsible law enforcement authorities easier. To achieve this aim, our national associations are working with local authorities and policy makers and CropLife Europe secretariat based in Brussels are involved in dialogue with European Parliament, Council and European Commission.
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