Bush Administration to Blue-State California: Drop Dead!

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET

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, 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

his pen.