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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
The protocol will result in energy efficiency and possibly lead to increased pesticide use (for example, herbicides) as a substitute for energy. It will affect land-use patterns because countries will receive credit for sequestration of carbon dioxide and be fined for releasing carbon dioxide in forests and other land-use practices. The impact of such arrangements on pesticide use has to be studied further, but such agreements will likely lead to increased acreages of biomass that will be sold as sinks for carbon dioxide.
During the 1970s, EPA and similar agencies relied mostly on direct control of technology, liability rules, and litigation as the major tools to achieve environmental-policy objectives, especially in regulating production activities. Strict registration requirements have been and are still the major tools to address introduction of new substances for pest control and management. The command-and-control approach establishes environmental-quality targets, identifies practices to meet this target, and institutes a set of rules (mostly liability), incentives, and deadlines to adopt desired practices in reaching environmental-quality objectives. A notable example is the introduction and enforcement of scrubbers in power plants and of catalytic converters in cars to reduce air pollution. Some economists and others have suggested that the command-and-control approach is rigid and inefficient, curtails initiatives, and can have counteractive outcomes. Similarly, the confrontational litigious approach to enforcement of regulations led to a backlash against the environmental legislation among lawmakers and the public sector. Thus, there is a gradual shift toward a more flexible and cooperative approach to meet environmental-quality objectives (Ribaudo and Caswell 1999).
A more acceptable approach is the introduction of markets and trading in pollution rights. Government agencies can establish an aggregate target level if pollution is well below existing target levels. Firms then would establish pollution rights (often proportional to their share in overall pollution in the past) and then be allowed to trade in the rights. This approach has been used to address air-pollution problems and might be applicable to pesticide use.
The use of direct financial incentives (subsidies) to induce environmental protection is growing. Alternatively, some countries in Europe have used pesticide taxation. This approach is popular in Scandinavian nations and is being considered by other European countries (OECD 1995). To encourage environmental protection, governments have used subsidies to invest in technology or adopt cleaner application systems. For example, the 1985 Food Security Act made entitlement to certain government programs subject to environmentally friendly farming practices. The 1990 Farm Bill included a water-quality incentive program,