Study estimates the costs of pesticide use at $15 billion

Photo credit: Nick Ares Photo credit: Nick Ares

Opponents to organic often cite the benefits of pesticide use, such as controlling pests and increasing yields.  However, economic models rarely incorporate hidden and external costs of pesticide use on human health and environmental consequences. A study published in Sustainable Agriculture Reviews estimates the costs of these negative impacts. In this study, researchers analyzed 61 papers published between 1980 and 2014 and 30 independent datasets examining costs associated with the purchase and application of pesticides and the impact of treatments on human health and the environment. The study showed that past calculations have grossly underestimated the costs associated with pesticide use because they have not included such information as fatalities due to chronic pesticide exposure. After further review of the data, researchers increased the cost calculation estimate tenfold, from $1.5 billion to $15 billion in the United States alone. As a result, the authors urged a re-evaluation of pesticide use because their calculations show that the costs associated with pesticide use may outweigh the benefits.