It took tens of thousands of people, dollars and hours to fight back the ambitions of a few agricultural capitalists, but good sense has at least temporarily prevailed here in California. After making their water-tight case for spraying most of Northern California with an untested pesticide to kill a harmless moth, the state government has backed down.
One of the arguments that the spray was safe was that the active ingredient wasn’t a straightforward toxin. It was a pheromone, which was meant to pose less of a threat, and able to degrade quickly. The claims of the chemical companies hasn’t quite matched the reality, though.
In Britain, a different hormone-based herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical, a compound that had actually gone through the rigours of testing, has recently been blamed for the mutation and loss of a range of crops.
If folk in California feel they’ve dodged that bullet, think again. The aerial spraying isn’t going to happen, but there’ll still be ground-based spraying in ‘forested areas’. Watch this space to find out how California agribusiness manages to reclassify Golden Gate Park as a menace to public health.