David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (forthcoming)
The rationale for pesticide use in agriculture is that costs associated with pesticide pollution are to be justified by its benefits, but this is not so obvious. Valuing the benefits by simple economic analysis has increased pesticide use in agriculture and consequently produced pesticide-induced “public ills.” This paper attempts to explore the research gaps of the economic and social consequences of pesticide use in developing countries, particularly with an example of Nepal. We argue that although the negative sides of agricultural development, for example- soil, water, and air pollution; pest resistance and resurgence; bioaccumulation, bio-magnification; and loss of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience caused by the use of pesticides in agriculture, are “developmental problems” and are “unintentional,” the magnitude may be increased by undervaluing the problems in the analysis of its economic returns. Despite continuous effort for holistic system analyses for studying complex phenomena like pesticides impacts, the development within the academic science has proceeded in the opposite direction that might have accelerated marginalization of the third world subsistence agricultural communities. We hypothesize that, if these adversities are realized and accounted for, the benefits from the current use of pesticides could be outweighed by the costs of pollution and ill human health. This paper also illustrates different pathways and mechanisms for marginalization. In view of potential and overall negative impacts of pesticide use, we recommend alternative ways of controlling pests such as community integrated pest management (IPM) along with education and training activities. Such measures are likely to reduce the health and environmental costs of pesticide pollution, and also enhance the capabilities of third world agricultural communities in terms of knowledge, decision making, innovation, and policy change.
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