Japan Signs Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan held an official signing ceremony for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on 1 October. ACTA will strengthen standards for the enforcement of intellectual property (IP), helping the global fight against counterfeit products, according to a recent statement from CropLife International.

Australia, Canada, the European Union and its Member States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States reached this agreement in October 2010. The agreement is open for signature until 1 May 2013.

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“The crop protection industry commends the international commitment to ACTA,” said Howard Minigh, President and CEO of CropLife International in a statement. “Strong and united enforcement of intellectual property laws helps to prevent the sale of illegal pesticides to unsuspecting farmers.”

With the growth of manufacturing capabilities it has become easier to produce and internationally trade ingredients for counterfeit pesticides. In addition, these illegal pesticides and chemicals are often disguised by fake packaging, which means they are unapproved, unauthorized and untested.

“Counterfeit crop protection products are not only an IP violation, they present a serious food safety, environment and human health risk,” said Minigh in a statement. “Since these unregulated products do not undergo safety or efficacy testing, they can destroy harvests, present a health and safety risk for farmers and create environmental hazards.”

Ultimately, counterfeiting and lack of effective IP protection erodes the incentive for plant science companies to continue to invest considerable time and resources into the development of new technologies, he said.

In reaction to counterfeit products and the inherent risks, the plant science industry has formed an anti-counterfeiting task force to work with international law enforcement, regulatory and trade authorities, according to CropLife. The task force is raising awareness with governments and regulatory agencies on the dangers of counterfeit and illegal pesticides, and helping those agencies train staff to deal with the threat.