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Fairtrade, Agrochemical Input Use, and Effects on Human Health and the Environment

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  • Sellare, Jorge
  • Meemken, Eva-Marie
  • Qaim, Matin

Abstract

It is often assumed that voluntary sustainability standards – such as Fairtrade – could not only improve the socioeconomic wellbeing of smallholder farmers in developing countries but could also help to reduce negative health and environmental impacts of agricultural production. The empirical evidence is thin, as most previous studies on the impact of sustainability standards only focused on economic indicators, such as prices, yields, and incomes. Here, we argue that Fairtrade and other sustainability standards can affect agrochemical input use through various mechanisms with possible positive and negative health and environmental effects. We use data from farmers and rural workers in Cote d'Ivoire to analyze effects of Fairtrade certification on fertilizer and pesticide use, as well as on human health and environmental toxicity. Fairtrade increases chemical input quantities and aggregated levels of toxicity. Nevertheless, Fairtrade reduces the incidence of pesticide-related acute health symptoms among farmers and workers. Certified cooperatives are more likely to offer training and other services related to the safe handling of pesticides and occupational health, which can reduce negative externalities in spite of higher input quantities. These results suggest that simplistic assumptions about the health and environmental effects of sustainability standards may be inappropriate.

Suggested Citation

  • Sellare, Jorge & Meemken, Eva-Marie & Qaim, Matin, 2020. "Fairtrade, Agrochemical Input Use, and Effects on Human Health and the Environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:176:y:2020:i:c:s0921800920303566
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106718
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    3. Blanca López del Amo & Ortzi Akizu-Gardoki, 2024. "Derived Environmental Impacts of Organic Fairtrade Cocoa (Peru) Compared to Its Conventional Equivalent (Ivory Coast) through Life-Cycle Assessment in the Basque Country," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 16(2), pages 1-26, January.
    4. Lori DiPrete Brown & Sumudu Atapattu & Valerie Jo Stull & Claudia Irene Calderón & Mariaelena Huambachano & Marie Josée Paula Houénou & Anna Snider & Andrea Monzón, 2020. "From a Three-Legged Stool to a Three-Dimensional World: Integrating Rights, Gender and Indigenous Knowledge into Sustainability Practice and Law," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(22), pages 1-22, November.
    5. Knößlsdorfer, Isabel & Sellare, Jorge & Qaim, Matin, 2021. "Effects of Fairtrade on Farm Household Food Security and Living Standards," 2021 Conference, August 17-31, 2021, Virtual 315073, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Anja Garbely & Elias Steiner, 2023. "Understanding compliance with voluntary sustainability standards: a machine learning approach," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 25(10), pages 11209-11239, October.

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