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Authorities move to root out imported illegal pesticides

Finnish Customs and chemicals watchdog Tukes say they have intensified oversight of pesticides imported into Finland.

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Image: AOP

The Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes said on Tuesday that it is aiming to prevent the entry of illegal pesticides into the domestic market. Tukes noted in a release that tonnes of the illicit chemicals are currently available on the European market, in the form of counterfeit or unapproved substances that may also be harmful to human health and the environment.

The agency added that the illegal trade in pesticides encourages financial crimes and results in financial losses for law-abiding businesses.

Last year, a joint sting involving 26 countries – including Finnish Customs and Tukes -- uncovered 360 tonnes of illegal pesticides. However at the time, the operation did not reveal any of the unlawful substances in Finland.

"These illegal materials will probably enter the Finnish market, since the problem is so widespread across Europe. In addition to the risk posed by bogus substances, are the products that have not been accepted [for use] in Finland. Pesticides imported from abroad without a license may not be used," Tukes chief inspector Lotta Kaila said in the release.

Customs could trigger criminal probe

"The impact on human health and the environment of the ingredients in counterfeit pesticides is not known. Authentic and tested ingredients are either replaced by cheaper substitutes or omitted altogether, so the product is cheaper but it is no longer suited to its original purpose," Kaila added.

Airport customs chief Mika Pitkäniemi said that the agency would focus checks on imports and that it would be using advanced technology to probe the contents of imported products. "Depending on the seriousness of the case, Customs will also conduct a preliminary investigation into suspected cases of illegality," Pitkäniemi added.

Tukes is the only agency in Finland that can grant permission for the use of pesticides and users require a Customs license to import the product.

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