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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Chapter Chair's Column
Indiscriminate spraying will continue unless people speak out
October 2007

Our communities are currently facing very serious threats to our health and safety. The Agricultural Commissioner's office, the California Department of Pesticides, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture are allowing untested and in some cases documented dangerous chemicals to be used in the air and soil in our neighborhoods. The aerial spraying for the Light Brown Apple Moth which occurred over the coastal Monterey Peninsula towns had residents genuinely terrified for their families and pets.

There was not enough public information or process to satisfy the many questions and fears that were unleashed. The chemicals had not been tested for aerial spaying for their impact on public health. Incredibly, it wasn't even known if the spray would protect the crops from the moth.

There was less outcry, but probably more danger, for the residents of Moss Landing who will be subject to seven applications of highly toxic and lethal pesticides on farmland adjacent to their homes. In this case, the neighbors had lived amicably for years near artichoke crops on which low levels of chemicals were used.

When the property changed hands, the new grower, Springfield Farms, requested and received an emergency permit to use

Methyl bromide, a Class 1 toxic drug responsible for 20 deaths since 1985;

Telone, identified by the state of California to cause cancer; and

Chloropicrin, also a Class 1 toxin which is a tear gas and can cause injury or death through respiratory problems.

These chemicals were applied as soil fumigants to grow strawberries, even though the grower was not required to produce a study or evidence that there were even fungi, diseases, or nematodes in the soil. Why growing strawberries instead of artichokes is an emergency was not disclosed.

These abuses and reckless disregard for human life and safety will continue unless members contact politicians and agencies and let them know that these practices will not be tolerated. Assembly member John Laird was very responsive to public concerns about the apple moth spraying. More needs to be done before our communities are safe from widespread application of these chemicals.

—Rita Dalessio

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