CropLife commences public information campaign on illegal chemicals

    7 August 2013

    Wednesday 7 August 2013 (Canberra) – The global trade in illegal pesticides is an increasing risk for Australian agriculture and such products are a threat to human health, the environment and the nation’s economy.

    “There is mounting evidence that Australia is the target of considerable illegal imports of unregistered crop protection products. A strong Australian dollar, growing illegal production in Asia, established transport links and a strong market for cheap agchem products in Australia has created the perfect environment for organised criminal operators to profit from selling illegal product to Australian farmers,” CropLife Australia Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Cossey said today.

    “Australia is fortunate to have an effective, robust, rigorous and scientific agricultural chemical registration system which requires all pesticide products to demonstrate their human health and environmental safety before they can be registered for use in Australia. There is serious concern that increased imports of illegal chemicals are slipping through our borders, putting Australian farmers, the environment and the economy at risk, and undermining public confidence in the regulatory system.

    “In response to this growing threat, CropLife Australia has commenced a targeted national information campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of purchasing illegal and unregistered agricultural chemicals from illegitimate overseas suppliers. It is crucial that farmers and other users of these products do not get duped into buying illegal products for the sake of their farm, their own local community and for Australian agriculture.

    “The trade in counterfeit and illegal crop protection products presents serious threats to farmers and food production around the world. Law enforcement authorities throughout Europe are intercepting and seizing increasing quantities of illegal products, originating predominantly from Asia.

    “In Europe illegal pesticides have been estimated to have grown to make up 10 per cent of the overall market. It would be absurd to assume that Australia, with its geographical proximity to Asia and strong agricultural sector, is not being targeted in a similar fashion.

    “It is imperative that our regulatory system is effective in ensuring that only legitimate registered products are imported and sold on the Australian market. The Government needs to ensure that immediate initiatives are implemented to enable our customs and agchem regulatory systems to address this real and present danger.

    “There is little use in having a system that only regulates the legitimate industry while allowing illegal cheap, untested products to cross our borders and put our farmers, environment and food supply in danger. CropLife member companies follow a strict code of conduct, which requirescommitment to high standards of safety, stewardship and product quality. It is mandatory for CropLife members to comply with the United Nations International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and participate in industry stewardship activities includingdrumMUSTER® and ChemClear®.

    “It is essential that the relevant government agencies ensure that illegal products are stopped before making it onto the market and to ensure that all agricultural chemicals sold in Australia are legitimate and registered and can be used safely, for the sake of farmers, consumers, the environment and Australian agriculture,” concluded Mr Cossey.

    Contact: Jessica Lee (Manager – Public Affairs)  Ph: 02 6230 6399  Mob: 0410 491 261