To Spray or Not to Spray? Pesticides, Banana Exports, and Food Safety

28 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by John S. Wilson

John S. Wilson

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Tsunehiro Otsuki

World Bank

Date Written: March 2002


How governments regulate food safety and environmental protection, including pesticide residue levels, has important implications for trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial held in Doha, Qatar in November 2001 included statements on standards and their impact on market access for developing countries. These issues will continue to be important in trade policy dialogues. It is assumed - and evidence from recent analysis confirms - that food safety standards can affect the ability of agricultural producers to meet regulatory standards set by importing countries. Wilson and Otsuki explore a fundamental question in food safety and environmental standards: Do regulations on pesticide have an effect on trade?

The authors examine regulatory data from 11 OECD importing countries and trade data from 19 exporting countries. The results suggest that a 10 percent increase in regulatory stringency - tighter restrictions on the pesticide chlorpyrifos - leads to a decrease in banana imports by 14.8 percent. This represents a significant impact on trade and affect prospects of developing countries who continue to rely on exports of agricultural commodities, such as bananas. The findings also suggest that the lack of consensus on international standards and divergent national regulations on pesticides is costly. For example, the authors estimate that if the world were to adopt a standard at a level of regulatory stringency suggested by Codex (the body charged with setting global standards in this area), in contrast with one set at the level in place in the European Union, there would be a US$5.3 billion loss in world exports.

This paper - a product of Trade, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to examine the link between trade, regulation, and development. The authors may be contacted at or

Suggested Citation

Wilson, John S. and Otsuki, Tsunehiro, To Spray or Not to Spray? Pesticides, Banana Exports, and Food Safety (March 2002). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2805. Available at SSRN:

John S. Wilson (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Tsunehiro Otsuki

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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