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Abstract

The widespread use of pesticides in agriculture provides a particularly complex pattern of multidimensional negative side-effects, ranging from food safety related effects to the deterioration of farmland ecosystems. The assessment of the economic implications of such negative processes is fraught with many uncertainties. This paper presents results of an empirical study recently conducted in the North of Italy aimed at estimating the value of reducing the multiple impacts of pesticide use. This type of analysis is rather novel in Italy. A statistical technique known as choice modelling is used here in combination with contingent valuation techniques. The experimental design of choice modelling provides a natural tool for tackling simultaneously the economic dimensions of several negative environmental effects associated with agrochemicals use. In particular, the paper addresses the reduction of farmland biodiversity, groundwater contamination and human intoxication. The resulting estimates show that, on average, Italians consumers are prone to accept substantial price mark-ups for agricultural goods (in particular, foodstuff) produced in environmentally benign ways.

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