Market-level assessment of the economic benefits of atrazine in the United States

Authors

  • Paul D Mitchell

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
    • Correspondence to: Paul D Mitchell, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin, 427 Lorch Street, Madison, WI 53705, USA. E-mail: pdmitchell@wisc.edu

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Atrazine and other triazine herbicides are widely used in US maize and sorghum production, yet the most recent market-level assessment of the economic benefits of atrazine is for market conditions prevalent in the early 1990s, before commercialization of transgenic crops. Grain markets have changed substantially since that time; for example, the size of the US maize market increased by 170% from 1990–1992 to 2007–2009. This paper reports a current assessment of the economic benefits of atrazine.

RESULTS

Yield increases and cost changes implied by triazine herbicides are projected to reduce maize prices by 7–8% and sorghum prices by 19–20%. Projected consumer benefits from lower prices range from $US 3.6 to 4.4 × 109 annually, with the net projected economic benefit for triazine herbicides to the US economy ranging from $US 2.9 to 3.4 × 109 annually because lower prices imply reduced producer income. Productivity gains from triazine herbicides maintain an estimated 270 000–390 000 ha of land in non-crop uses that generate environmental benefits not accounted for in this analysis.

CONCLUSION

Even in the current era, with transgenic varieties dominating crop production, atrazine and the other triazine herbicides continue to be a key part of maize and sorghum production and generate substantial economic benefits. © 2013 The Authors. PestManagement Science published by JohnWiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.

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