Up to 30% of pesticides used in Mexico are pirated and harmful to health

Mexican agrochemical industry authorities have not taken the necessary measures - 108.3 tons of illegal pesticides and plant nutrients were seized during 2020, Cofepris said.

Up to 30% of pesticides used in Mexico are pirated and harmful to health
Pesticide use. Photo by Arjun MJ / Unsplash

Agricultural workers, consumers, and the environment are at risk due to the existence of illegal products that are marketed in the agrochemical market, as they are produced by companies without registration with the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris) denounced Luis Eduardo Gonzalez, president of the Mexican Union of Manufacturers and Formulators of Agrochemicals (UMFFAAC).

"The Mexican farmer is being cheated, we have detected that in some areas of the country, between 25 and 30 percent of the supply of pesticides are fake, adulterated, and pirated products," he said. He pointed out that the Mexican authorities have not taken the necessary measures to combat this problem and even the acquisition of this type of product is extremely easy since there are dozens of groups in social networks where they are sold without restrictions.

He detailed that they have identified five categories of these illegal products: those without registration, counterfeit or pirated, adulterated or re-labeled, and those smuggled through Mexican customs. "A major problem is that they may contain residues that are not authorized in Mexico, nor in countries to which Mexico exports, generating negative effects on the growth of the agricultural sector, the only economic activity that reported growth last year, which reached 2.7 percent," he said.

For a product to be marketed in the country, it requires the sanitary authorization granted by Cofepris, with the opinion of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), which ensures the efficacy and safety of the product and can then be sold and used in the domestic market.

"It is surprising to see that on the one hand authorities such as Semarnat and the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) pretend to justify limiting the use of pesticides such as glyphosate and, on the other hand, do not act with the necessary determination to remove these products from the market and sanction those responsible for their illegal manufacture," categorically condemned the president of UMFFAAC.

Cofepris revealed through a request for information that during 2020, 108.3 tons of illegal pesticides and plant nutrients were secured, which represented the lowest figure in the last five years. In 2016, 26,108 tons were secured; in 2017, 41,880 and 2018, 3,438; while in 2019 and 2020 the figure dropped to 298.1 and 108.3 tons, respectively.

"The Sanitary Operation Commission through the Executive Directorate of Supervision and Sanitary Surveillance, performs sanitary verification visits to marketers and formulators of pesticides and plant nutrients, to monitor that the products that are formulated, packaged and marketed there comply with current regulations in terms of labeling, otherwise the products that fail to comply are secured," the request stressed.