Counterfeiting & Seizures

Europol: Thousands of tonnes of illegal pesticides seized

In a new joint operation between Europol, European authorities, and industry associations, officials seized over 2,000 tonnes of illegal plant protection products in around 30 countries. Many of these were also partly manufactured within the EU.

Europol has recently carried out its Operation Silver Axe against counterfeit and other illegal pesticides for the eighth time. As currently released, officials from all 27 member states of the European Union and five other countries (Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA) seized a total of around 2,040 tonnes of illegal products between January and April 2023 and arrested 21 suspects. This is almost double the amount of products seized and suspects arrested compared to the 2022 operation.

As in previous years, countries in Asia and South Asia in particular remain important countries of origin for illegal pesticides in 2023. However, as part of this year’s operation, officials also dismantled manufacturing facilities for counterfeit pesticides in Europe. According to Europol, a significant share of the production and finishing of illegal pesticides now takes place in the EU. 

In addition to often having devastating consequences for ecosystems, illegal pesticides can also affect the economy. „Counterfeit and illegal pesticides undermine the goals of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. They affect the EU economy and the reputation of legitimate stakeholders across the entire agri-food chain,” said Olivier de Matos, Director General of the industry association CropLife Europe.

The last eight Silver Axe operations have removed a combined total of around 7,000 tonnes of illegal pesticides from circulation. As in the previous year, Europol coordinated the action with the support of the CropLife Europe and CropLife International associations, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE).

Europol, CropLife Europe

Article in cooperation with the Anti-Piracy Analyst


Sabine Carrell, International Communications Manager at SCRIBOS

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