Plans for pesticides halted
May 5, 2008 12:45 PM
The state of California decided to halt the Light Brown Apple Moth pesticide spraying in Santa Cruz and delay the spraying of a pheromone-based product scheduled for this summer.
Officials are postponing the spraying until they have gathered more evidence about the effects of the chemicals on humans.
Residents were able to express to the California Department of Food and Agriculture their stance on the spraying at a meeting held last February in Oakland.
Maxine Ventura said she has been battling with pesticides since her children were born. She raised her family in Sonoma Valley, a place heavily polluted with pesticide spraying. At the age of three, her youngest daughter was covered in lesions and her eyes filled with pus from the fumes, she said.
“Conventional agriculture has ruined our state,” said Ventura, a member of activist group East Bay Pesticide Alert.
“My children and I now have multiple chemical sensitivity from living on the vineyards, and we can’t let this happen to other people,” she said.
Multiple chemical sensitivity is a severe allergy to unnatural pollutants.
“The State Department should have no free pass to go on with this spray that will affect thousands of people,” said Eleanor Loined, a resident of Richmond.
The department sought public input while putting an environmental impact report together.
The CDFA had maintained that if action was not taken immediately, the moths could ruin crops in Northern California. If the LBAM overpopulates, it could endanger over 250 species of plants, according to the department.
The moth is native to Hawaii and Australia, and was found in March of 2007 by a retired entomologist from Berkeley, according to the CDFA. Since the discovery of the LBAM, the state has already sprayed pesticides in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, in June through September of 2007.
The CDFA wants to use "CheckMate," a pheromone that has been tested on plants and animals, but not humans. It does not kill the moth, but instead disrupts the mating cycle. The male becomes confused and cannot locate the female moth. According to the CDFA, CheckMate contains no chemicals harmful to humans.
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture said that LBAM is considered a bio-control agent for serious invasive species. A bio-control agent is a plant or animal that naturally prevents another species from overpopulating through competition for food or shelter, or by feeding on them.
“I would rather live with the apple moth than have pesticides sprayed on me,” said Amy Coulter, a resident living in the Bay Area.
“What I see in a perfect fruit is that a pesticide hasn’t been sprayed on it,” she added.
Scientists studying LBAM think that the moth was introduced to California by commercial flights to and from Australia and Hawaii. To help reduce the population of moths, the USDA is proposing stringent regulation of imports from these two countries.
The panel revealed to the audience that although the environmental impact report is going to reflect the public’s opinions on the spray, the report is due to come out after the spraying resumes.
“Why are you asking for comments if the decision's already been made?” said Lorraine Smith, a teacher living in the Bay Area.
Although the impact report did not come out in time to directly affect the state's decision, the government still decided to delay the spraying.
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