The green way?
Here’s a question I have about the state’s plan to spray us with a synthetic pheromone to try to kill off the light brown apple moth: If the plan is as green as California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura claims, then why aren’t major green groups on board?
Sierra Club California director Bill Magavern said his group wants the state to prove that the pheromone spray it plans to coat much of the Bay Area with is safe before it sprays again, and he said an environmental impact report should be generated and alternatives assessed. “We don’t think the case has been made for why they need to spray,” Magavern said in a recent phone interview.
California Certified Organic Farmers recently pulled its support for the spraying, and Executive Director Peggy Miars said her organization needs more time to study the issue. “At this time, we are inundated with conflicting information, data and reports from qualified professionals on both sides of the issue,” Miars said in an e-mailed response to questions on the group’s stance. She said the issue has split her organization’s membership, with some questioning whether eradication is even possible.
Even the Natural Resources Defense Council, which the state has portrayed as a supporter of the spraying in its literature, has reservations about the plan, according to a position statement it offered last fall (the group did not respond to several requests for comment). While the group’s concerns about the health impacts of the spray are limited, it too is calling for a better exploration of alternatives to spraying, better tracking of health complaints, environmental monitoring and more public input in the process.
California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman Steve Lyle said the department is just heeding the longstanding request of environmentalists, who have been asking the department to use pheromones instead of conventional pesticides for years. Miars said her group had supported the state at first because they had heeded the group’s request to use a material approved for organic production.
He claims the sky spray plans are the most environmentally friendly eradication project in his department’s history.