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Why farmers continue to use pesticides despite environmental health and sustainability costs

  • Wilson, Clevo
  • Tisdell, Clement A.

Use of chemical inputs such as pesticides have increased agricultural production and productivity. However, negative externalities, too, have increased. The externalities include damage to the environment, agricultural land, fisheries, fauna and flora. Another major externality has been the unintentional destruction of beneficial predators of insects which has led to a virulence of many species of agricultural pests. Mortality and morbidity among agricultural workers, especially in developing countries from exposure to pesticides, are also common. The costs from these externalities are large and affect farmers’ returns. However, despite these high costs, farmers continue to use pesticides and in increasing quantities. In this paper, we examine this paradox and show why farmers continue to use pesticides despite the increasing costs. We also emphasize ‘lock-in’ aspects of pesticide use.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/48363
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Paper provided by University of Queensland, School of Economics in its series Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers with number 48363.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uqseee:48363
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  1. Jeffery Bentley & Graham Thiele, 1999. "Bibliography: Farmer knowledge and management of crop disease," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 75-81, March.
  2. Vivien Foster & Susana Mourato, 2000. "Valuing the Multiple Impacts of Pesticide Use in the UK: A Contingent Ranking Approach," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 1-21.
  3. Duncan, R & Tisdell, Clem, 1971. "Research and Technical Progress: The Returns to Producers," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 47(117), pages 124-29, March.
  4. Cowan, Robin & Gunby, Philip, 1996. "Sprayed to Death: Path Dependence, Lock-In and Pest Control Strategies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 521-42, May.
  5. Lohr, Luanne & Park, Timothy & Higley, Leon, 1999. "Farmer risk assessment for voluntary insecticide reduction," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 121-130, July.
  6. Tsu-Tan Fu & Jin-Tan Liu & James K. Hammitt, 1999. "Consumer Willingness to Pay for Low-Pesticide Fresh Produce in Taiwan," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 220-233.
  7. Clement A. Tisdell, 2007. "Sustainable Agriculture," Chapters, in: Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 22 Edward Elgar.
  8. Widawsky, David & Rozelle, Scott & Jin, Songqing & Huang, Jikun, 1998. "Pesticide productivity, host-plant resistance and productivity in China," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 19(1-2), September.
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