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Trading Standards probes sale of illegal pesticides and herbicides on eBay

EBay said the “very small” number of items were the result of a temporary glitch in shipping availability.

Trading Standards is investigating  the sale of illegal pesticides and weedkillers in the UK on eBay.

Reporters from Greenpeace’s investigation arm Unearthed said they were able to buy five different pesticides and herbicides unauthorised for sale in the UK, which all contained chemicals harmful to humans and wildlife.

The products on offer to UK shoppers included atrazine, a weedkiller that has been banned across the EU for more than a decade and “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk”, which US environmental regulators have warned is especially hazardous to children as it appears similar to colouring chalk.

EBay has taken down the listings, which it said were temporarily visible to UK buyers because of a glitch in shipping availability.

Greenpeace UK campaigner Ben Stewart said: “This is the world’s largest online marketplace, not the dark web. Yet none of the products we purchased have been cleared for sale in the UK, and they all contain dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to humans and wildlife. Some were even mislabelled as safe when they’re anything but.

“A multi-billion-pound online giant like eBay should be able to afford a zero-tolerance policy on illegal pesticides that monitors what’s on sale and blocks out dangerous products.”

Westminster City Council, which is the primary authority for all trading standards issues associated with eBay in the UK, said it was investigating Greenpeace’s claims.

Westminster Council cabinet member for public protection and licensing Ian Adams said: “The council takes any allegation of the sale of unlawful goods by companies based in Westminster extremely seriously, and will work with all parties involved to halt the sale of illegal biocides and pesticides.

“We are currently investigating these claims, and speaking to eBay about the listings in question.”

An eBay spokeswoman said: “The very small number of items highlighted were immediately removed from the website. While some of these products are unrestricted for sale outside the UK, they were temporarily visible to UK buyers because of a temporary glitch in shipping availability.

“The Health and Safety Executive have commented that they are extremely encouraged by eBay’s actions in this field and hold eBay as a gold standard for internet selling on these items. We have a long standing partnership with Trading Standards on this matter already.”

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