Pesticides: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
Goeb, J., Dillon, A., Lupi, F., & Tschirley, D. (2020). Pesticides: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 7(5), 801-836.
Agricultural intensification can negatively affect farmer and social welfare through health and environmental externalities if producers have imperfect knowledge of the risks posed by agricultural inputs. This paper explores the effects of health-risk information on the demand for substitutes in the pesticides market and farmer preferences for risk-mitigating technologies using a choice experiment integrated with a randomized controlled trial in Zambia. Environmental health-risk information provided through a farmer training program had an insignificant effect on demand for risk-mitigating personal protective equipment but a significant effect on demand for substitutes, lower toxicity pesticides. The treatment group was twice as likely to substitute a highly toxic pesticide with a low toxicity pesticide after receiving training. What farmers do not know can hurt them and the environment through lower demand for less risky and less damaging substitutes.