Supes unanimously adopt resolutions
against aerial spraying

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Published on April 15, 2008 with No Comments

By Jesse Dungan

April 15, 2008

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted today to oppose aerial spraying to eradicate the invasive light brown apple moth, joining a growing number of Bay Area cities that oppose the state plan.

Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution, introduced by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, which opposes the aerial chemical spraying by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

A second resolution, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and supervisors Bevin Dufty and Tom Ammiano, also unanimously adopted by the board, urges the state to make maximum use of safe and tested ground-based methods to control the moth, complete an environmental impact report before any aerial spray program and ensure the state Environmental Protection Agency assesses the human health risk of the spraying.

Prior to the vote, Mirkarimi voiced concerns about issues of public safety, citing Santa Clara and Monterey counties, where spraying of the pesticide was followed by hundreds of reports of respiratory and other health problems. He also expressed concern that full disclosure of the ingredients used have not been released, stating, “San Francisco is not a petri dish.”


Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval also spoke against the aerial spraying and cited University of California, Davis entomologist James Carey, who said that the program would not work to eradicate the invasive moth. Sandoval also said that the state had not provided a time cap for how often and for how long the spraying would last.


Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval

Ammiano, who concurred with Sandoval, said “I guess I’m old enough to remember DDT,” referring to Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, a synthetic pesticide.


Supervisor Tom Ammiano

Opponents of the program claim that spraying may cause respiratory problems, skin rashes, headaches and other health issues and that the eradication program has not been proven to be safe, effective or necessary.

However, State Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura issued a statement Monday, contending that the “program’s success is critical to our economy, our environment and public health.”

The light brown apple moth, native to Australia, has been found recently in parts of the Central Coast and the Bay Area, including San Francisco, and is considered a serious threat to plants and agricultural crops.

Federal and state agriculture officials claim that if the moth is allowed to spread throughout the state, it could cause between $160 million and $640 million in crop damage each year.

Though the plan also includes placing “twist ties” containing the pheromone on trees, shrubs and fence posts in infested areas, and the release of millions of tiny, stinger-less wasps that target the moth’s eggs, the department considers aerial spraying its main option.

The Department of Food and Agriculture plans to continue aerial spraying to eradicate the pests beginning June 1 in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, and Aug. 1 in San Francisco and parts of Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties.

Mirkarimi’s resolution also urges the City Attorney’s Office to investigate whether legal action can be taken to oppose the spraying.