Californians Deliver Fruit & Flowers to Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Demand End to Wasteful Multimillion-Dollar Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) Program, Seek Science-Based Policies, End to Farmer Quarantines
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Heeding President Obama's call for government policies based on scientific fact, and the new administration's determination to cut wasteful government spending, Californians have joined together to deliver apples and flowers to Speaker Pelosi. A letter signed by Northern California community members asking Speaker Pelosi to support reclassification of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) from an actionable pest to a non-actionable pest, and requesting hearings on the issue, accompanies the agricultural products. Reclassification of the moth would end burdensome quarantines currently imposed on farmers, and eliminate the need for a multi-million dollar eradication program which critics say is unsafe, unnecessary, and ineffective.
The flowers and apples were grown pesticide-free in Santa Cruz County, and typify the plants LBAM can feed on. The number of flowers and apples delivered represent the amount of money -- $90 million -- spent during the first year of the LBAM eradication program. Each flower and apple delivered represents one million dollars. The coalition delivering the package of agricultural products and signing the letter to Speaker Pelosi, ranges from mothers' groups (Mothers of Marin Against the Spray [MOMAS] and Play Not Spray-San Francisco) to businessmen, from scientists to health advocates, and spans geographically from Monterey County to Sonoma County. Californians have opposed the plans by the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) to eradicate LBAM since the program's inception in 2007.
"Reclassification of LBAM is supported by a petition presently under consideration by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The petition provides extensive scientific justification for the position that eradication and quarantine measures are unnecessary, because LBAM poses no significant economic or ecological threat," states Debbie Friedman, Chair of MOMAS. "Eradication efforts and quarantines not only impose unnecessary hardships on farmers, but they compel a range of pest control activities that threaten human health, especially the health of our children. It is galling that taxpayers are forced to continue paying millions of dollars for this unnecessary and potentially toxic eradication program during a time of fiscal crisis."
In a supportive letter accompanying the fruit and flowers, Chris Mittelstaedt, CEO and founder of The FruitGuys (and a parent of young children), states that the LBAM eradication program represents "unfair policy built on faulty scientific assumptions that benefits foreign growers over domestic ones. ...I beg you to please...remove the threat of quarantine which creates gross inequity and a restrictive policy for a pest that according to the farmers I talk with is not really a pest at all."
A particular waste of taxpayer money may be Sterile Insect Technology (SIT), a relatively recent addition to the CDFA toolkit for LBAM eradication, which has included aerial spraying of pesticides and toxic ground treatments.
According to James Carey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, "SIT is a complete waste of money. It has never been used to eradicate any moth species that has as many plant hosts and is as widespread as LBAM is in California. The failure of the five-year, multi-million dollar effort by the Canadian government and industry in the late 1980s to eradicate the codling moth in apple-growing regions of British Columbia, using a combination of SIT and chemicals, underscores the ineffectiveness of SIT even for a species with a narrow host-range, such as the codling moth. They are talking about rearing enough [sterile] moths to release over a 500-square-mile area. That's 500 million moths per week, and it's impossible. They can't eradicate these things, but [it] lets CDFA throw public money down a rat hole. Basically, there is no way it can work."
Also included with the apples and flowers is a supportive letter from a New Zealand fruit growers' association (LBAM has lived in New Zealand for 100 years), and a coalition letter from Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), calling for the reclassification of LBAM.
CDFA has conducted more than 270 eradication projects since 1982 -- and in practically all cases, the targeted species has reappeared, often repeatedly, raising the question of whether any eradication program can work.
Additional information: http://cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stopthespray.org%2Flbam%2Findex.htm&esheet=5918929&lan=en_US&anchor=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stopthespray.org%2Flbam%2Findex.htm&index=1