In a joint action, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and
the CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) have declared war
on the home base of Senators Boxer and Feinstein, house speaker Pelosi,
the founders of Moveon.org, gay-marriage-friendly Mayor Gavin Newsom, Code
Pink, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Aerial spraying with a pesticide which has never been tested for human or
environmental safety is planned starting this summer, month after month,
year after yeas, in an area stretching from Carmel to Marin County, San
Francisco to Berkeley, in pursuit of the eradication of the Light Brown
Apple Moth (LBAM), a rather wimpy exotic pest originally from Australia.
A state of emergency was declared for this pest on paper, abrogating the
need for any kind of environmental impact --- when folks like James Carey,
professor of entomology at UC-Davis and Dan Harder, director of the
UC-Santa Cruz Arboretum, maintain eradication won't work; the LBAM is a
nuisance at best; and this ill-conceived attack on the people,
environment, and economy of California is about trade wars and not about
actual threats to agriculture (Fodor's is already advising tourists to
stay away from Santa Cruz, because of the spray).
The CDFA quietly admits that LBAM hasn't caused any actual damage to
agriculture in California; what it doesn't cop to is the damage -it- and
the USDA has caused to California growers and farmers through its
quarantines, insistence on destruction of any plant showing any signs of
LBAM, shut down of nurseries with LBAM, insistence on spraying in
nurseries with highly toxic organophosphate chlorpyrifos, and the like.
Funny how there's not enough money in the budget to properly fund the USDA
to screen properly for tainted beef, but there is plenty of money to fund
an eradication program that could run into the hundreds of miliions of
dollars over the next five years, if allowed to continue --- and funds the
antics of longtime-government contractors Dynamic Aviation out of
Bridgewater, Virginia, which counts "intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaisance" among its domains of expertise. What, there weren't any
California-based cropdusters, with traditional skills in pesticide-spray
and not geopolitics, available for the gig?
And, this eradication program is an earmark in Bush's budget, just the
kind of questionable federal budgeting speaker Pelosi said she'd be
looking into (her district is in the spray zone, too). Then there's the
fact that much of the money for this comes from the Department of Homeland
Security, about the only place you can find money these days. And for poor
cash-starved California, always broke since Proposition 13, money for
emergencies and eradications is there to be had from the Feds --- who ever
would want to turn down free money that might keep your agency partly
afloat? Particularly when you know there is little to be had for
monitoring and Integrated Pest Management?
California Secretary of Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, part of the Orange
County Republican New Majority that helped push Schwarzenegger into office
and Gray Davis out of it, keeps repeating pernicious nonsense reminiscent
of "heckuva a job, Brownie!" and "Mission accomplished!", talking of
threats the LBAM would make to the coastal redwoods and monterey pines.
Um, no, just to pick one tiny misapprehensions among all the other lies,
Big and small, being cranked out by the USDA and the CDFA, the LBAM is a
leafroller. It makes its home on leaves, munching only part-way through
them. It can't eat things with needles, like redwoods and pines. But
then, Kawamura has a degree in comparative literature, not in agroeconomy
nor entomology nor public health ---and has gone on the record as stating
that regulation, not development, is the greatest threat to agriculture.
He also fought to prevent annihilating pesticide methyl bromide from being
outlawed. Hey, pesticide - drift into schoolyards? Aerially spraying
millions of people and poisoning the watersheds of San Francisco and
Monterey Bays? What's the diff?
The USDA and the CDFA keep saying the spray is safe. Never mind that known
mutagens, carcinogens, lung skin and eye irritants, and compounds
considered hazardous waste by the European Union, all micronized in
plastic capable of remaining lodged in the deep lung, were in first round
of spraying for the LBAM in the Fall of 2007 in Monterey and Santa Cruz
counties. Then, hundreds of sea-birds died afterwards, accompanied
temporally by one of the worst red tides in 40 years --- and hundreds of
people had health complaints, even though the CDFA set up no reporting
mechanism to monitor these adverse health effects. Not to mention how
Santa Cruz and Monterey residents have kept telling stories of wheezing
dogs and their puking, dying cats.
And we're supposed to trust an administration where the EPA won't support
the state of California in request to set its own carbon dioxide emissions
standards, and dimisses, under pressure from the chemical industry, one of
its staff members concerned with the health effects of a flame retardant
widely used in electronic equipment
New Zealand, where the LBAM has been for more than a century, has a
climate similar to California's and grows many of the same things (from
chardonnay grapes to apples -- and monterey pine as a timber-crop,
exported from California years ago). There, the LBAM is managed by letting
natural predators take over, and washing fruit with water to ready it for
export. That's right, no aerial spraying, nothing. And the European Union
has no ban on LBAM whatsoever.
It looks and feels a classic move by Bush Administration: an aerial attack
against an enemy posing no real threat; a program which can't work and
wastes the taxpayers' money; a toxic boongodoggle which benefits occluded
political goals and cronies; acts of state-sponsored terror; and is
ultimately a case of fighting the the last century's war with outdated
It's faith-based (as in, don't complicate with facts), bad science, even
worse public policy -- and an environmental disaster.
Can you spell chemical trespass? Violation of the state constitution of
And Governor Schwarzenegger, who boasts about wanting California to take
the lead in green sustainability, could end this enormity with stroke of