Day of Remembrance held for moth spray

October 24, 2008 9:42:31 PM PDT
Beginning Saturday Santa Cruz residents will hold "Days of Remembrance" through Nov. 9 to mark the aerial pesticide sprayings that occurred in Monterey County in 2007 for the Light Brown Apple Moth.

The insect was discovered in California in 2007 and an eradication program was immediately started by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Pheromone pesticides were sprayed over vast areas of the state.

After complaints of health hazards the agency halted the aerial sprayings on June 19. The agency is hoping to start a sterile moth program in 2010 to diminish the population.

"The Days of Remembrance are a way to recall what happened in the fall of 2007, demand compensation for the damage done by the sprayings and work towards a better, greener future for us all," coordinator Paulina Borsook from Stop the Spray said.

For the remembrance there will be a news conference, award ceremony for the Light Brown Apple Moth Ribbon of Merit and candlelight walk in Santa Cruz, along with satellite events in Berkeley and Marin County on Oct. 25.

After the sprayings last fall residents throughout the county complained of headaches, rashes, eye and through irritation, dizziness and nausea, according to Stop the Spray and the department.

"State agencies have done only a cursory investigation of the many illnesses and they've added insult to injury by not interviewing a single patient or doctor," Pacific Grove businessman Mike Lynberg said.

However, department spokesman Steve Lyle said that two agencies that have jurisdiction over citizens health, the Department of Pesticide Regulation and Department of Public Health, conducted independent tests showing that the aerial treatments did not cause health problems.

"The aerial program sprayed with moth pheromone products that are widely called pesticides, but are not conventional pesticides," Lyle said. "It's a mating disruption tool, it doesn't hurt anyone."

The pheromone causes the male moths to overload so they cannot find female moths and die without mating.


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