Start the Spray

A little while ago I hailed a popular victory against a NAFTA-compliance measure that would spray large parts of Northern California with a toxin that hadn’t been tested on people before, to eliminate a threat that wasn’t a threat at all.

Turns out I was a little premature.

From the Retort mailing list comes this update…

To: Retort
From: LW

[Lee sends us (1) the text of a letter to the SF Bay Guardian on state plans to extend the aerial spraying of urban areas to kill Light Brown Apple moths, and (2) the text of a window display at the Modern Times bookstore (installation and text by Anandi Worden). Lee writes: “See also the coverage, including pictures, on the front page of . Donations to defray expenses, as they say, are still welcome.” IB]

Editors:

Local heroes James Carey, Daniel Harder, and Jeff Rosendale deserve respect for their work exposing the light brown apple moth spray plan (July 30). But contrary to your report, they have not stopped the spray program.

The state still plans to spray urban areas, just from truck foggers or by hand instead of from airplanes. They also plan on sticking the chemicals to telephone poles, trees and such in the cities. Meanwhile, they are continuing their plan to spray from airplanes in “rural areas,” some of which are very near Bay Area cities and many of which are on mountain tops or ridges, allowing for plenty of drift into the cities.

The spray (a mix of pheromones and various other chemicals) has not been tested for its health effects on human beings. Millions of people will be exposed, including children, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases – for example, the immune compromised and chemically sensitive, who are especially vulnerable and many of whom have moved to the Bay Area for safe haven.

The planned ground application includes permethrin, which is a neurotoxin. Symptoms include tremors, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. It has also been shown to be a probable carcinogen. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.

We have won a symbolic victory against the Schwarzenegger administration’s pro-corporate, anti-human spraying plan. It’s worth celebrating, but it’s crucial to be clear that we haven’t won yet. Many of us are exquisitely vulnerable to toxic exposure, including lots of long-time dedicated social justice activists, and cannot afford to be abandoned as this program goes through. Keep fighting until we stop this pointless, violent program.

For more information see for instance www.cassonline.org (California Alliance to Stop the Spray).

Anandi Worden
Lee Worden
San Francisco

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Modern Times bookstore window text:

The spray has not been cancelled!

Despite announcing in June that the aerial spray program had been cancelled, the CDFA is still planning to spray San Francisco and surrounding areas with dangerous pesticides starting this fall.

The new plan is to use truck foggers (a truck that sprays a cloud of pesticides behind it), applications on telephone poles, and insect traps. This might sound better than being sprayed out of an airplane, but the end result is the same – everyone will be exposed to toxic chemicals.

Additionally, aerial spraying will still be happening in so called “rural areas,” some of which may be within 10 or 20 miles of cities and many of which are on top of mountains or ridges allowing for huge amounts of drift.

The pesticides have not been tested for their health effects on human beings. That’s because it’s against the law to experiment on human beings with pesticides. Millions of people will be exposed, including children, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases (for example, the immune compromised and chemically sensitive, many of whom have moved to the Bay Area for safe haven, who are especially vulnerable).

Ground spraying will include Permethrin which is a neurotoxin. Symptoms include tremors, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. It has also been shown to be a probable carcinogen. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.

The official reason for this program is to address the problem of the light brown apple moth (LBAM) which the state claims is a risk to agriculture. However, the LBAM has been in the state for 35 years without doing any noticeable damage. Officials admit that the proposed spraying program will not eliminate the moth. The spray is actually simply to satisfy trade agreements.

Once again our government has shown that profits are more important to them than our health and lives.