Friday, June 15, 2007

OECD report reveals growing counterfeit problem

Kiwis, conserved vegetables, milk powder, butter, ghee, baby food, instant coffee, alcohol, drinks, confectionery, and hi-breed corn seeds are among the most counterfeited articles in the world according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), to be published this June.

“Trade in counterfeit goods is a big problem and getting bigger,” said John Dryden, Deputy Director of the OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Directorate. “It is pervasive, it involves some pretty unsavoury and ruthless characters, and it has serious implications for health, safety, living standards and jobs. It is also a major disincentive to invent and innovate.”
The market for counterfeit and pirated products can be divided into two important sub-markets. In the primary market, consumers purchase counterfeit and pirated products believing they have purchased genuine articles. The products are often sub-standard and carry health and safety risks that range from mild to life-threatening. In the secondary market, consumers looking for what they believe to be bargains knowingly buy counterfeit and pirated products.

...In the food and drink sector, few people would knowingly purchase counterfeit food or drink products, due in part to the potential health risks involved. Such risks range from general discomfort, to serious illness and even death. As discussed in the sectoral assessment, this has been the case for poorly distilled raw spirits and fake baby formula.

The OECD report makes a number of recommendations for ways to address the issues and calls on governments to clamp down. Click to view the Executive Summary (pdf format) of the report online.