Facilitating Trade

At the intersection of trade, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate, a complex interplay of challenges and opportunities unfolds: our work in facilitating trade within the industry is rooted in the understanding that these elements are intricately connected.

CropLife International recognizes the importance of trade as a catalyst for ensuring all farmers have access to agricultural inputs and are able to access markets internationally to trade their commodities. We are committed to fostering trade policies that promote economic prosperity while safeguarding human health and the environment.

Predictable and Harmonized Trade Policies

CropLife International promotes free and fair trade of agricultural commodities and agricultural inputs. We work with international organizations and governments to support an efficient and predictable global trading system, in particular to eliminate non-tariff trade barriers, while advocating for internationally agreed trade standards based on fact-based risk assessment.

In an ever-changing global marketplace, the agricultural value chain needs predictability to thrive. Open and predictable trade rules not only benefit farmers, but also contribute to global food security by ensuring a reliable supply of a wide range of agricultural products, reducing market volatility, and fostering investment in sustainable farming practices.

CropLife International supports this predictability by promoting adoption of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. We focus on identifying potential issues that may impact global agriculture trade and work collaboratively and proactively with industry partners to mitigate or minimize any negative impacts.

Crop Protection

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) sets out the basic rules on food safety and animal and plant health standards that governments are required to follow. CropLife International fully supports and actively advocates for standards based on science.

The SPS Agreement references Codex Alimentarius as the international standard and basis for countries’ SPS measures. Codex Alimentarius sets uniform food standards and guidelines for pesticide residues (Codex MRLs) that protect consumer safety and the quality of international food products. Codex MRLs should serve as a basis for national legislation. CropLife International respects the critical role of Codex for the effective and efficient functioning of international trade. We advocate for the sustainable resourcing of its scientific advice bodies and to secure adequate budgetary resources for the Codex secretariat. We strongly encourage Codex member states to consider Codex standards as the international standard for trade.

CropLife International advocates for governments to establish harmonized trade standards and to address non-tariff trade barriers that have no impact on food safety. If governments set unilateral standards that compromise open and fair trade, CropLife International advocates for a rules-based order in compliance with the WTO.

CropLife International has historically provided an expert industry perspective – in multilateral fora and bilateral trade agreements – where national regulations and/or policies would set non-tariff barriers and could disrupt global trade.

Following suit, CropLife International applied to intervene in an EU court case related to MRLs in food and feed. We agree with the plaintiffs’ legal challenge to the European Commission’s new Regulation 2023/334 concerning MRLs for clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The Regulation would constitute a regulatory over-reach by the EU that exceeds the powers the European Commission has been given under the applicable legal framework and that creates unjustified barriers to international trade. This is why the CropLife network is providing technical and financial support to the plaintiffs who have chosen to bring this case forward.

Further, CropLife International has applied to intervene directly in the case as members companies’ business activities will be impacted. As mentioned above, MRLs are established to ensure consumer safety and facilitate trade. They are not designed to address environmental protection. Different countries and regions have their own strict regulatory frameworks that scientifically evaluate the risks of pesticides to ensure they can be used safely based on their national systems and conditions.

Plant Biotechnology

CropLife International leads a globally coordinated approach to trade that drives geography-specific strategies in targeted countries and regions and serves as an overarching coordination and horizon-scanning role to monitor developing issues that could impact trade, product launch, and product continuation. The strategy is based on the goal of achieving an efficient and transparent global trading system for innovation and is centered around the following objectives:

  • Trade priorities for the plant science industry are elevated in bilateral and multilateral negotiations, positioning the industry as part of the dialogue on trade and sustainability.
  • Targeted countries issue approvals for plant biotechnology products within required statutory timelines, following a predictable and transparent process.
  • Key markets implement functioning, harmonized, predictable, timely, risk-based, and trade-enabling MRL policies.
  • Non-tariff trade disruptions of plant biotechnology and agricultural commodities grown with crop protection products are eliminated or at least minimized.
  • Product launches are not delayed due to trade-related issues (e.g., MRLs are in place and are not a limitation to place crop protection products on the market; import market approvals are not delayed for plant biotechnology products approved in cultivation markets).
  • Nascent regulatory approaches to genome editing do not hinder movement of commodities that may include genome edited varieties.

Working closely with the CropLife network and governments of like-minded countries and in key markets, CropLife International provides a leadership role in implementing action plans to manage existing non-tariff trade issues, identifying potential issues that may impact global trade, and supporting a global trade system that facilitates the adoption of innovation and technology to deliver more sustainable food systems.

To support predictable trade involving biotechnology-derived plant products, CropLife International and its members have developed a product launch stewardship guideline.

Addressing Illegal Trade

Counterfeiting (including illegal pesticides) of plant protection products brings to bear a range of negative effects for industry, farmers, and the environment.

Counterfeiting negatively  impacts the ability for product developers to continue to invest in the development of innovative technologies that help drive actionable progress toward our global ambitions of increasing food security, adapting to and mitigating climate change, and enhancing biodiversity.

Most importantly, counterfeit pesticides risk the health and safety of workers and farmers. Farmers rely on authentic legitimate registered pesticides to protect their crops and secure their livelihoods. Counterfeit pesticides not only compromise crop health but also impose financial burdens on farmers through ruined harvests.

Counterfeit pesticides may contain unapproved or unknown substances that pose risks to the environment, crops, and farmer health. These unknown illegal chemicals can contaminate soil, water bodies, and non-target organisms, leading to ecological imbalances and ecosystem disruptions.

There has also been a notable surge in the use of illegal seeds over the past decade, encompassing counterfeit seeds, fraudulent labeling, intellectual property infringements, regulatory violations, and trademark infringements of proprietary materials. The continued distribution of illegal seeds erodes farmers’ trust in the seed industry, potentially depriving farmers of crucial support and guidance from seed producers and suppliers, including valuable crop production advice.

Robust industry and law enforcement anti-counterfeiting efforts are necessary to prevent the circulation of counterfeit and illegal pesticides and seeds. CropLife International collaborates with law enforcement and stakeholders globally including but not limited to Interpol, Europol, World Customs Organization, United Nations Interregional Crime Institute, OECD, pesticide regulators, and customs at national borders.

CropLife International and its members are committed to delivering and stewarding plant science technologies, continuously working with global law enforcement to ensure that only legally registered authentic plant science technologies reach the market and that these are traded and used in a safe, responsible manner.

CropLife International is a member of the following anti-counterfeiting organizations:

Third-Party Publications on Illegal & Counterfeit Pesticides


Global: New Digital Technologies to Tackle Trade in Illegal Pesticides [OECD] GlobalReport of the OECD Seminar on Risk Reduction Through Prevention, Detection and Control of the Illegal International Trade in Agricultural Pesticides Global: Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries, Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy in the Supply Chain [ICC]
Global: Best Practice Guidance to Identify Illegal Trade of Pesticides [OECD] GlobalThe Roles and Responsibilities of Ocean-going Transportation Intermediaries in the Distribution of Counterfeit Goods [Michigan State University] Global: Adoption of Council Recommendation on Countering the Illegal Trade of Pesticides [OECD]
Global:  Illicit Pesticides, Organized Crime and Supply Chain Integrity [UN Interregional Crime & Justice Research Institute] Global: US Government Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement (FY2017 – 2019) [Tackling the Growing Costs Associated with Storage and Destruction of Counterfeit Goods, pages 111-113] Global: Declaration of intent to prevent the maritime transportation of counterfeit goods [ICC]
Ukraine: Counteraction to Counterfeit and Contraband Pesticides, Methodology [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] EU: The Economic Cost of IPR Infringement in the Pesticides Sector [EU Intellectual Property Office] EU: Ad-hoc study on the trade of illegal and counterfeit pesticides in the EU [European Commission, DG Health & Food Safety]
Brazil: The Illegal Market for Agricultural Pesticides in Brazil [Institute for Economic & Social Development of Borders] Africa: Counterfeiting in African Agriculture Inputs – Challenges & Solutions [The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] West AfricaRegulating agricultural intensification [Development Policy Review]
Mali: Fraudulent pesticides in West Africa [International Journal of Pest Management] MaliUnregistered pesticides: Prevalence, risks, and responses in Mali [International Association of Agricultural Economists] India: Study on Sub-Standard, Spurious/Counterfeit Pesticides in India [Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry]
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