Valuing environmental and health risk in agriculture: A choice experiment approach to pesticides in Italy
The widespread use of pesticides in agriculture shows a complex ramification of multiple negative externalities, ranging from food safety-related effects to the deterioration of farmland ecosystems. Recent research has demonstrated that the assessment of the economic implications of such negative processes is fraught with many uncertainties. This paper presents the results of an empirical study recently conducted in Northern Italy aimed at estimating the economic value of reducing the wide-ranging impacts of pesticide use, by deploying a Choice Experiment approach. The experimental design provides a meaningful tool to assign monetary values to the negative environmental effects associated with agrochemicals use. In this connection, the paper addresses in particular the reduction of farmland biodiversity, groundwater contamination and harm to human health. The resulting estimates confirm that, on average, respondents demonstrate a substantial willingness-to-pay a premium for agricultural goods (in particular, foodstuffs) produced in environmentally-benign ways.
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