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The Economics of Cosmetic Pesticide Use


  • Erik Lichtenberg


It has been argued that so-called “cosmetic” standards for produce quality increase pesticide use on fruits and vegetables. This paper shows that stricter quality standards unambiguously increase farm-level pesticide demand only when produce is sold in mixed lots with tolerances for characteristics determined by quality standards and there is no sampling error. Under more commonly encountered conditions, stricter quality standards may reduce pesticide demand. An empirical example of apple production suggests that grading standards have non-negligible effects and that more stringent grading standards lead to reduced pesticide use under plausible conditions. Copyright 1997, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Lichtenberg, 1997. "The Economics of Cosmetic Pesticide Use," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(1), pages 39-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:79:y:1997:i:1:p:39-46

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    Cited by:

    1. Chalfant, James A. & James, Jennifer S. & Lavoie, Nathalie & Sexton, Richard J., 1999. "Asymmetric Grading Error And Adverse Selection: Lemons In The California Prune Industry," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(01), July.
    2. Lichtenberg, Erik, 2002. "Agriculture and the environment," Handbook of Agricultural Economics,in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 23, pages 1249-1313 Elsevier.
    3. Marsh, Thomas L. & Huffaker, Ray G. & Folwell, Raymond J. & Long, Gary, 1998. "An Intraseasonal Bioeconomic Model Of Plrv Net Necrosis," 1998 Annual meeting, August 2-5, Salt Lake City, UT 20935, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Erik LICHTENBERG, "undated". "Grading Standards And Pesticides," Department of Resource Economics Regional Research Project 9536, University of Massachusetts.

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