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The political economy of maximum residue limits: A long-term health perspective
Journal of Agricultural Economics  (IF3.581),  Pub Date : 2021-12-28, DOI: 10.1111/1477-9552.12476
David Karemera, Bo Xiong, Gerald Smalls, Louis Whitesides

Maximum residue limit (MRL) is the primary policy instrument to regulate the application of pesticides in agri-food sectors. Partially due to the lack of scientific consensus on risk assessments, the prescriptions of MRLs vary substantially across markets and products. We provide the first empirical analysis of the political economy of MRLs at the market-product-chemical level, while accounting for long-term toxicological effects of the regulated substances. Applying a Poisson model to the Health Scores derived from both the literal MRLs and their long-run health impacts, we find that countries spending more on public health set more restrictive MRLs. We also find that countries possessing comparative advantages in fruits and vegetables adopt more lenient MRLs. Finally, products subject to lower tariffs are generally taxed with tougher MRLs.