Europol warning on rise of illegal pesticides

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Policing agency Europol on Friday warned against the growing trade in counterfeit and illegal pesticides, saying these chemicals could even be used to manufacture home-made explosives.

"Europol has identified a growth in the trade of illegal and counterfeit pesticides," the agency said in a statement in The Hague, adding that income from this crime resulted in "billions of euros a year".

"Such illegal pesticides threaten the health of farmers and consumers and pose a risk to the natural environment," it said.

"Furthermore there is a risk that illegal pesticides can be used as precursors for home-made explosives due to the lack of traceability."

"It's fairly easy to make explosives with pesticides and this is why its sale is monitored very closely on the legal market so we can easily see when there is a suspicious purchase," Europol spokesman Soren Pedersen told AFP.

Illegal and counterfeit pesticides however, were not subject to any control and therefore suspicious sales were harder to trace, he added.

Europol said the criminal networks involved were highly sophisticated with complex global supply chains.

It was a fast-growing racket because of its "low-risk, high-profit" margin, Europol added, saying at least 25 percent of pesticides used in some European Union states originated from the illegal pesticide market.

Europol recommended drawing up a comprehensive plan dealing with the counterfeit pesticide trade including cross-border probes and improving the traceability of dangerous materials used in making the chemicals.

© 2012 AFP

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