pound extra for apples with no detectable pesticide residues and 37.5 cents per pound extra for apples with absolutely no pesticide residue; (the normal cost of apples was 79 cents per pound. Of special interest was the fact that respondents who considered pesticide residues to pose “high risk” were willing to pay only 1 cent more per pound than the average respondent. Results of a separate study by Yarborough and Yarborough (1985, cited in Goldman and Clancy 1991) also found that the relationship between a person's “pesticide concern” and altered purchasing patterns was weak.
Decreased pesticide use might be accompanied by increased cosmetic damage to produce. Brunn (1990) examined consumer response to such cosmetic damage by showing photographs of oranges to shoppers in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Shoppers were shown photographs of oranges with 0%, 10%, and 20% damage by thrips. The shoppers indicated that they would be willing to buy the oranges with the 10% and 20% scarring if the prices were 88% and 78% of the price of unblemished oranges. When shoppers were told that the blemished oranges were grown with 50% less pesticide, most of them said that they preferred the blemished over the nonblemished oranges; 63% preferred 10% scarred oranges and 58% preferred 20% scarred over the nonblemished oranges.
Baker and Crosbie (1993) criticized the contingent-valuation method used in many of those studies because it assesses only one variable and includes all consumers in each estimate. They used a technique called conjoint analysis on a small sample of shoppers at two San Jose, California supermarkets in 1992 to establish consumer groups that differ in behavior. In their analysis, they were able to examine the tradeoff between decreased pesticide use and increased pest damage. Their results indicated, for example, that, if a program banning carcinogens raised the price of produce by 20 cents per pound, the publicly acceptable increase in pest damage due to the ban could not exceed 14%. Cluster analysis indicated that the shoppers could be divided into three groups. About 30% cared about price and quality, but not pesticide residue. A majority, 55%, cared about price and quality and whether the produce met government standards for residue. The remainder, about 15%, wanted stricter government regulation of pesticide use on the farm.
Most of the data on health effects of pesticides are focused on carcinogenicity. Surveys of public opinion indicate that consumers are concerned about pesticide residue because of fear of cancer, but the public attitude toward pesticide residue is shaped by a much broader array of factors. Other health factors such as allergies and nervous system disorders, are of concern (van Ravenswaay 1995); but a number of studies indicated that consumers who were concerned with pesticide residue associated it with environmental problems (Hammitt 1986, Higley and Wintersteen 1992).
It is important that scientists, policy makers, and companies gain a