Thursday, May 8, 2008
NO SPRAY SONOMA
Sonoma council puts up 'no-spray' sign
Resolution asks state to focus on least-toxic control methods for moth
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
May 08, 2008
Video Fighting the apple moth
Sonoma City Council members voted 4-1 Wednesday to pass a resolution opposing aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth.
But as sole opponent Councilman August Sebastiani noted, the measure was largely symbolic because state officials have postponed any aerial spraying until at least Aug. 17, when further testing of human health effects is completed.
The resolution introduced by Councilman Ken Brown supports a moratorium on spray programs until independent studies of potential heath effects are done.
The measure also asks the state to focus on the least toxic control methods available and to further investigate the moth's impact.
Wednesday's discussion hinged largely on the issue of spraying a synthetic pheromone that doesn't kill the insects but confuses the males so they can't find females to mate with.
However, that's not the method state agriculture officials propose for treating Sonoma Valley's 15-square-mile quarantine zone.
State Department of Food and Agriculture officials have suggested applying pheromone-infused twist ties to trees and fences in a 200-meter area around the two sites where single moths were discovered over the past four months.
Still, all 13 speakers urged the council to pass the resolution against spraying.
"I'm absolutely convinced the chemical is toxic and dangerous," said Petaluma resident Helen Grieco of the National Organization for Women's local environmental justice committee. "We're not convinced the moth is this big a threat."
Bill Willers of Sonoma said it was "absurd to consider allowing ourselves to be put under the siege of aerial spraying."
Others, including Mayor Joanne Sanders, compared the pheromone spray to the use of malathion or DDT.
"It marked me for my whole life," she said, remembering malathion spraying from her youth near San Jose.
After the quarantine zone was declared Monday, officials said a public meeting would be scheduled before the twist ties would be applied.
In other counties, officials have sprayed infested areas with the pheromone after declaring the situation urgent.
California officials insist the chemical is safe. But spraying opponents say the state has not adequately investigated health complaints from Central Coast communities where the spray was applied last fall.
Opponents also say the potential risk to crops and other vegetation is overblown and the moth can be controlled by natural predators or traps.