"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
The latest incarnation of this terrifying phrase is the California State Dept. of Agriculture's plan to spray the city I live in, Oakland, along with basically the entire rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, with a pesticide meant to combat the light brown apple moth. Every night this summer. And every summer for the next five years. Even though the initial spraying in Santa Cruz and Monterey last year produced hundreds of complaints about coughing, wheezing, muscle aches, eye and throat irritation, and asthma attacks.
We're doing this because the light brown apple moth "can damage" a wide range of agricultural crops and other plants. If we don't do this spraying, it'll destroy California agribusiness. The state, and the USDA, say they are trying to "head off a potential disaster."
Yeah, right. Have we got a widespread infestation of the apple moth? Well, no. They've found a few moths in about 11 counties. Does the apple moth cripple agriculture? Well, not visibly in Australia, where it originated; OK, maybe it has natural enemies there. But it's also been introduced into New Zealand, New Caledonia, the British Isles, and Hawaii. I haven't personally heard of the agricultural industry in those places being crippled by this moth; have I missed something??
Look, they propose to fly crop-dusters over the city of Oakland, at a height of 200 feet or less, and spray a chemical called CheckMate over the city (and about every other city in the Bay Area), every night, all summer. To read a professional analysis of the ingredients of CheckMate, review this article in today's San Francisco Chronicle, from Richard Fagerland, of "Ask the Bugman." It is scary. It is very scary. The USDA says the amount of pesticide they want to use "shouldn't pose severe health risks." I'd like to know how they determine what health risks are "severe."
I'm an asthmatic; I also have eye problems due to other chronic conditions. I am seriously concerned about my health if I have to live with this crap falling out of the sky for the next five years. There are bills in the California legislature right now to block this spraying, and I think my next step is to go to my legislators' web sites and encourage them to pass those bills.
This is an attempt to protect California agribusiness at the expense of the health of the majority of the northern California urban population. Well, boys, there are more of us than there are of them, and we vote for you. Or we don't; your choice.