(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2008) The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has released its latest schedule for assault on the light brown apple moth (LBAM), adding specifics to its previous outline of the 2008 plan. As has been previously reported, public outcry against the aerial spraying of a pheromone mixture has been widespread, in spite of the state’s insistence on the necessity of such measures. As a result, two state senators are introducing measures to stop, or at least postpone, spraying until safety and efficacy can be assured.
The latest schedule from CDFA identifies anticipated components to the eradication effort. For instance, twist-ties (carrying the moths’ pheromone) will be applied to trees beginning February 25, which will be used alone in areas of low infestation, and “to complement mating disruption treatments against heaviest populations.” They will remain in place until an area is free from moths for two life-cycles. “Pheromone male moth attractant treatment,” applied to utility poles and trees, both on public and private property, will occur in areas of mid-level infestation, measuring at least 3,000 male moths per square mile. These applications will begin in April, and in areas of heaviest infestation, will precede aerial spraying. The latter will begin in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties on June 1, and in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties on August 1. The stingless wasp Trichogramma will also be released in the first three counties sometime this spring.
State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) is introducing a resolution to set a moratorium on aerial spraying in San Francisco and Marin County, which would last until “the U.S. Department of Agriculture can guarantee the spray’s forumula is both safe for humans and effective against the moth.” Other counties may choose to join in the resolution, which CDFA is not required to follow. In addition, Assemblyman John Laird will introduce a package of bills today concerning LBAM.
Both politicians are responding to concerns that the aerially sprayed formula is a hazard to public health. CDFA received 330 illness reports after spraying began last fall, and hundreds more were collected by the group California Alliance to Stop the Spray. CDFA is sponsoring community meetings to get input on its coming Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The two remaining meetings will be held on February 25 in San Francisco and February 26 in Oakland. Full details are here. In addition, comments may be submitted no later than March 14. Address your comments to Jim Rains, Staff Environmental Scientist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, fax (916) 654-1018, or email [email protected]