Hundreds gather to oppose moth spraying

April 17, 2008 10:20:42 AM PDT
The outcry against the plan to spray seven Bay Area counties to stop an apple moth infestation is getting louder by the day. The outcry continues, despite assurances from Governor Schwarzenegger that the spray being used is safe. On Wednesday, the apple moth controversy landed squarely in the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.

Hundreds of people made the trip from the Bay Area to oppose apple moth spraying. Some of them are seasoned activists, while others are simply concerned.

"The thought of that being sprayed on us, and all over my yard, and my kids going to be putting his hand in his mouth, his toys in his mouth on the grass . It's not supposed to be in water. It's going to be sprayed over Briones Resevoir. It just doesn't seem like this is something I can sit at home for," says apple moth spraying opponent, Dierdre McLoughlin.

The Assembly Committee on Agriculture considered four separate bills about the apple moth.

"You will not silence the voices of the people who have concerns here," says Oakland Assemblymember Sandre Swanson.

Swanson is calling for voter consent. San Rafael's Jared Huffman supports public hearings. The South Bay's John Laird wants the USDA and state to plan for invasive species.

"Human beings first. This is a pest. As we know, it's been a long time in New Zealand and they still export apples," says Assemblywoman Loni Hancock.

Loni Hancock's bill prohibits aerial spraying without a governor's declaration of a state of emergency. Mark Leno's bill was not before the Agriculture Committee, but it would halt the planned spraying until an environmental impact report is completed

"People are screaming. People are frightened out of their minds, and I think nothing short of his agreeing to have planes fly over his home and his family in Brentwood, to show how safe it is, would we begin to believe the words coming out of the administration," says Leno.

"I've been out on all the different sprays this last fall underneath the sprays with my wife, in fact, and we're very comfortable with the level of safety this spray has." says State Agricultural Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

The spray involves releasing synthetic pheromones to fool male moths and disrupt mating. Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura says the method is not new and is effective.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Agriculture Committee did pass two of those bills through. One of them was on advanced planning and the other calls for public hearings on the apple moth infestation. The committee also voted against two bills. One was requiring voter consent and a state of emergency declaration in order to continue the spray.

ABC7 did speak with Assemblymember Swanson's office. They said they are going to be looking at their options, but it is too late to introduce a new bill.


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