Hidden active ingredients (AIs) are often found in counterfeit products, which can pose serious health risks to consumers. Counterfeiters may add or substitute ingredients that are cheaper or easier to obtain, but are not safe for human consumption or may have different effects from the genuine product. For example, a counterfeit pesticide may contain a toxic chemical that is not approved for use in a particular crop or in the geography where it is being used.
To prevent the use of counterfeit pesticides and protect against hidden active ingredients, it is important for farmers and agricultural workers to purchase pesticides from reputable sources, such as licensed dealers or distributors. They should also be vigilant for signs of counterfeit products, such as suspiciously low prices or packaging that looks different from the genuine product. Farmers can also verify the authenticity of pesticides through the use of anti-counterfeiting technologies or by checking with the manufacturer or authorized resellers.
In our experience, the following are signs that should raise alarm bells:
- The product contains “highly effective”, mysterious, imported adjuvant which delivers “outstanding” or “unparalleled” performance”.
- A bottle containing a “mysterious” adjuvant (i.e. the hidden AI) is sold with the original product and the grower is instructed to mix before use.
- The insecticidal effect may last 2-3 weeks or even longer, which is abnormal compared to the regular product.
- Products being promoted for use in crops they aren’t commonly used to treat.
- Products being promoted for use against pests they aren’t known to be highly effective against.
- Prices at least 2x the normal retail price (even counterfeiters have to cover the cost of sourcing material).
- Promotion of “mystery” or “secret” adjuvants. These are regulated products – nothing should be a mystery or a surprise!
- Promotion of systemic control (longer duration than expected).
- Promotion for use situations that are not normally the target for the AI.
What to do if you spot a suspicious product?
- Keep receipt, invoice or contract relating to the suspicious product.
- Report the suspicious product to local agricultural authority.
- Contact FMC’s customer care hotline, or provide related evidence and details of the sighting to your local FMC representative.
To protect against hidden active ingredients in counterfeit products, it is important to purchase products from reputable sources and to be aware of the signs of counterfeit products, such as suspiciously low prices or packaging that looks different from the genuine product. Consumers can also verify the authenticity of products through the use of anti-counterfeiting technologies or by checking with the manufacturer or authorized resellers.