Agricultural trade, development and toxic risk

Susmita Dasgupta, Craig Meisner, David Wheeler, Yanhong Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper uses a large database of laboratory test results to investigate the sources of international variation in pesticide residues on food products. We specify and estimate a model that incorporates contamination effects attributable to product pest sensitivity, pesticide toxicity levels and characteristics of the producing country. Among the latter, our model tests for the effects of income, education and openness to trade. We find large and highly significant "generic" differences in contamination of food products, reflecting pesticide applications that vary with pest sensitivity. Controlling for these differences, we find strong effects for income and education. Pesticide residues on agricultural products fall sharply as income increases, but rise significantly with education. Our model attributes the latter effect to the choice of more capital-, skill- and pesticide-intensive technologies in better-educated societies. We find no significant impact for opennes to trade. Our results suggest that workers and consumers in low-income societies have far higher exposure to toxic pesticides than their counterparts in high-income societies, but that consumers in the latter experience significant increases in toxic exposure risk as agricultural trade with developing countries expands. The paper concludes with a discussion of appropriate instruments for resolving a potentially serious trade-environment conflict on this front.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1412
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Agricultural trade
  • Crosscountry
  • Food consumption
  • Pesticide residues
  • Pesticide risks


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