Thank you for your coverage of the proposed aerial spraying for the light brown apple moth. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has now clarified that Piedmont indeed will be part of the spraying, scheduled to begin in August. It is dismaying that the CDFA representatives who addressed our City Council on March 3rd did not come armed with the basic fact of whether or not Piedmont would be in the spray zone. The CDFA’s Action Plan, available on its website, has Piedmont clearly listed.
We are also concerned about the testimony given by the CDFA to City Council, because two of its basic premises are contested: Not only do experts disagree about the scope of the moth infestation, they also do not agree that questions about the health safety of the likely aerial spray product have been resolved. The CDFA’s position is that the light brown apple moth has only recently arrived in California and that the State must act quickly to prevent it from turning into a disaster for our crops, trees and economy. The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reported on March 6th that top insect and plant experts in the state question not only the timing of when the moth arrived in California, but also the extent of its threat and the necessity to move so quickly to an aerial spray.
In his testimony to the City Council, CDFA’s scientific expert, Dr. Dowling, testified that each of the ingredients being considered for the spray (exact formulation still to be determined) has separately been tested and approved, and therefore should be of no concern. At the same meeting, however, a representative from Cal/EPA testified that testing of the product as a whole has not been completed, and that he could make no assertions about its safety.
Questions about the health safety of the likely aerial spray center not on its main ingredient (a synthetic pheromone that has been used safely in localized applications), but on some of its inert ingredients, which studies have shown can cause lung irritation in higher concentrations. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma may be particularly at risk.
We urge Piedmont citizens and leaders to raise their voices on this issue. The CDFA plan to spray heavily-populated urban areas with a product that has not been thoroughly tested for safety would be ill-conceived even if the extent of the moth infestation were undisputed. Until the scientific issues related to both the necessity and the risks of this program are resolved, the only correct course of action for the CDFA is to pull back from its plans to begin widespread aerial spraying in August.
Margaret Ovenden, Len Gilbert, and others.
- E-mail Larry Rosenberg, Piedmont ’s Director of Public Works (firstname.lastname@example.org), letting him know that you are very concerned about this untested pesticide being sprayed over our community. He is preparing the City’s response to CDFA’s draft Environmental Impact Report, and in the Post article he invites concerned residents to e-mail him. The City’s letter to CDFA needs to be submitted by March 20, so the time to write him is right NOW! It doesn’t need to be a fancy letter!
- Write directly to the CDFA, either to their Light Brown Apple Moth Program at email@example.com (again, a simple message is fine), or make your own comments on their draft Environmental Impact Report by the close of the business day on March 20th by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . (The draft EIR is posted at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/PHPPS/PDEP/lbam/pdfs/docs/LBAM_NOP_020808.pdf).