Notice to mariners n ° 46: Illegal plant protection products, why risk it?

Five tips to avoid serious trouble (and penalties)


Unfortunately, the Italy of crafty (or rather those who believe themselves as such), that of wine with methanol (1986) and methyl-isothiocyanate (1992) tends to emerge periodically on that of artistic, culinary and cultural excellence as if we were not able or unwilling to learn from past mistakes. Even in the field of phytosanitary, in order not to incur mistakes that can cost dearly, even becoming accomplices of real crimes, even criminal ones, just follow a few simple tips: let’s see which ones.

Tip # 1. Read the label and use the head: dual use products

Almost all substances have more than one use: Copper, as well as as a fertilizer and fungicide, is used practically everywhere, starting with cosmetics (n ° 132 annex IV regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetics). Diazinone, an active substance banned in Europe in 2007 for use in phytoiatrics, is used in the formulations of veterinary drugs, including free sale. Malathion, as well as insecticide approved in the EU, is present in free-selling anti-parasitic anti-parasitic gels. In the case of Copper, to discover potential illicit it is not even necessary to read the label in depth: if you use it in viticulture and the formulation is not a regularly authorized plant protection product you are probably doing something not regular, as everyone knows that the shortcomings copper on the screw do not exist. It also contravenes the rule on fertilizers, which requires the use of trace elements “only in case of recognized need” (pity that there are no penalties for users, at least for now). And then it is not even true that the copper used in fertilizers is the same as that used in plant protection products: try to see if the limits of impurities (lead, cadmium, arsenic, antimony, chromium, cobalt and nickel, all of toxicological relevance) they are the same for fertilizers and plant protection products. Don’t be complicit!

Tip n ° 2. Read the label and use your head: don’t believe in fairy tales, especially that of the Matrina

In this case it is advisable to refresh the memory (in this period there is really a need) going to retrieve from our archives the operation “Stregata Mela” in which large quantities of unidentified products have been seized, some labeled as fertilizers “Capable of activating the natural defenses of plants against harmful insects”, which actually contained the mythical “matrina”, an alkaloid derived from the roots of the legume Sophora flavescens, which has been used for some time in China and throughout the East as an insecticide, nematocide and also fungicidal and credited with a neurotoxic mechanism of action. This active substance (although defined with the reassuring term of “biopesticide” is far from harmless) is effective even at very low concentrations (on the non-European market there are formulations from 0.3% up to 2%) and is authorized in many countries but not in Europe. In the report prepared by the authorities in 2014, these products that arrived from China labeled in various ways were described as extremely cheap and very effective insecticides. Have you ever wondered why no company has yet tried to legally start a business in Europe based on this promising ingredient? Maybe because its contraindications make it uncertain the possibility of registering it according to the strict EU rules?

Tip n ° 3. Read the label and use the head: if it cannot be used in traditional agriculture it cannot be used even in organic agriculture

Organic farming must first of all comply with the rules of traditional agriculture: let’s make a reason for it. Beware of unauthorized products or with imaginative definitions and whose only advantage is that of being “suitable for organic farming”.


Tip n ° 4. Read the label and use your head: VAT is not involved

In the report of the authorities, some paragraphs are also dedicated to the tax evasion perpetrated by labeling insecticides as fertilizers that enjoy 4% subsidized VAT, also emphasizing the economic part of the matter. Attention: it is not that the wording “is not a plant protection product” and VAT at 22% makes regular unauthorized products but which are actually used as plant protection products without being provided with the necessary authorization.

Tip No. 5. Read the label and use your head

Just to reiterate the concept.


Insights for scholars, insiders or simply curious

  • The report of the “Haunted Apple” operation
  • Legislative Decree 17 April 2014, n. 69. Disciplinary discipline for violation of the provisions of Regulation (EC) no. 1107/2009 relating to the placing on the market of plant protection products and which repeals directives 79/117 / EEC and 91/414 / EEC, as well as Regulation (EC) no. 547/2011 which implements regulation (EC) no. 1107/2009 as regards the requirements regarding the labeling of plant protection products.



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