Barbara Lee Asks USDA to Oppose LBAM Spray

By Judith Scherr
Friday May 16, 2008 - 05:04:00 PM

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Berkeley-Oakland, has added her voice to those calling for a halt to plans to spray for the Light Brown Apple Moth [LBAM] until health and environmental studies are done. 

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday, Lee asked the department’s support to “encourage the [California Department of Food and Agriculture] to freeze plans for the aerial spraying in California pending the completion of an environmental impact report, a rigorous scientific study of alternative solutions for addressing the LBAM population, and comprehensive toxicity tests that account for both the short and long-term impacts of the entire pheromone-pesticide compound.  

Lee is the third Bay Area representative to publicly question the LBAM eradication plan, according to Sacramento-based Pesticide Watch.  

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, wrote Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week, requesting he answer concerns about the safety and efficacy of the LBAM spray program, and in late April Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer expressing similar concerns.  

“It is imperative that the people of California are not subjected to unknown risks of aerial pheromone treatments without proper scientific review and consideration of public participation and comment,” Lee wrote in her letter. 

Meanwhile, says Pesticide Watch, more than 26,000 citizens have signed an on-line petition opposing the spray and 25 city and county governments in California have officially opposed the plan along with more than 70 organizations, including, most recently, the California Nurses Association, the Oakland Zoo, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District Board, the East Bay Regional Park District Board and the Alameda Country Conference of Mayors. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture continues to say that the LBAM is a dangerous pest that could destroy California’s agriculture business and must be eradicated without thorough investigation into the eradication procedures because the moth presents an emergency.