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Title: Pesticide risk perceptions and the differences between farmers and extensionists: Towards a knowledge-in-context model

A growing body of literature analyzes farmer perceptions of pesticide risk, but much less attention has been given to differences in risk perception between farmers and technical experts. Furthermore, inconsistencies in knowledge have too easily been explained in terms of lack of knowledge rather than exploring the underlying reasons for particular forms of thinking about pesticide risks. By doing this, the division between expert and lay knowledge has been deepened rather than transcended. Objective: This study aims to understand differences and similarities among the perceptions of pesticide risks of farmers, farm workers, and technical experts such as extensionists, by applying a social science approach towards knowledge and risk attitudes. Methods: Semi-structured interviews and field observations were conducted to smallholders, farm workers, extensionists, health professionals and scientists involved in the use and handling of pesticides. Subsequently, a survey was carried out to quantify the farmers and extensionists' acceptance or rejection of typical assertions expressed previously in the semi-structured interviews. Results: Smallholders showed to gain knowledge from their own experiences and to adapt pesticides practices, which is a potential basis for transforming notions of pesticide safety and risk reduction strategies. Though extensionists have received formal education, they sometimes develop ideas deviating frommore » the technical perspective. The risk perception of the studied actors appeared to vary according to their role in the agricultural labor process; they varied much less than expected according to their schooling level. Conclusions: Commitment to the technical perspective is not dramatically different for extensionists on the one hand and farmers as well as farm workers on the other hand. Ideas about a supposed lack of knowledge by farmers and the need of formal training are too much driven by a deficit model of knowledge. Further research on risk perceptions of pesticides and training of rural people will benefit from the development of a knowledge-in-context model. -- Highlights: • Researching perceptions of farmers' extensionists and other professionals. • Experts as well as farmers deviate from the technical perspective. • Blaming who is responsible for pesticide problems creates expert-lay division. • Qualitative and quantitative methods, not as complementary but integrated. • Knowledge-in-context model as an alternative to the knowledge-deficit model.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Society, Culture and Health Academic Area, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur. Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Barrio de María Auxiliadora cp. 29290 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico)
  2. (GRAAL), Faculty of Medicine, Biostatistics Unit, Barcelona Autonomous University, Edificio M, 08193 Bellaterra (Spain)
  3. Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen (Netherlands)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Research; Journal Volume: 124; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States