Faking it

At least a fifth of all pesticides sold across the European Union is fake, according to a report in the UK's Society of Chemical Industry publication Chemistry & Industry. The problem could endanger food safety and human health in an industry worth 7.5 billion euros (almost $10b). Counterfeit products range from illegal copies of patented products to low-quality fakes. Roger Doig, President of the European Crop Protection Association, told the journal the problem is getting worse each year. "Clearly there are risks when products that have not been properly studied or evaluated are being brought on to the market," he said. Recent incidents highlight the extent of the problem. In February this year, a counterfeit herbicide used in Italy was found to contain quantities of a hazardous insecticide while in 2004, hundreds of hectares of wheat were wiped out in France, Italy and Spain because fake herbicide was used. The ECPA recently launched a pan-European Anti-Counterfeit Programme, in an effort to get governments and regulators to use their powers to enforce regulatory policies.