Impact report on apple moth eradication program out
From the Better Late Than Never Department: I’m finally getting a chance to let you know that the state has released its draft environmental impact report on its plan to wipe out the light brown apple moth in order to protect California’s crops.
The moth eradication program generated a huge controversy last year after state officials opted to spray a pheromone-based pesticide over populated areas of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties without testing the spray first to ensure it wouldn’t harm people or other animals.
State agriculture officials had planned to spray the pheromone all over Alameda and elsewhere in the Bay Area, but held off after encountering a firestorm of controversy over the plans and the loss of two lawsuits intended to stop the spraying.
Per the report, the state does not appear to be considering further spraying in urban areas, reserving that option for unpopulated swaths of California where the moth is found. But officials are considering a program that could include ground application of similar compounds on public utility poles and residents’ trees and bushes. They are also thinking about applying a pheromone plus the pesticide permethrin on trees and utility poles in order to kill male moths.
The report lists no human health impacts for applying the pheromone treatment on trees, bushes and utility poles but notes the potential of “significant but mitigable” impacts for the pheromone plus pesticide treatment, including potential ill health effects for people who are sensitive to pollutants and a potential increased cancer risk.
The report proposes to minimize the potential problems by applying the pesticide eight feet above the ground, and also to keep it away from parks and schools.
Other options under consideration include the use of twist ties in areas where there are fewer moths, the release of sterile insects to halt the moths’ breeding and the use of predators to kill the moths. Nurseries and private individuals would also be able to use permitted insecticides.
Eradication activities are slated to continue this year and the program is set to run through 2015.
The report is here, along with directions on how to submit a comment on it. Comments are due by September 28. If you want to comment in person, they’ll have a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. September 1 in the auditorium of the Elihu M. Harris state building, 1515 Clay Street, Oakland.
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