LBAM Spraying

    After vigorous objections by many people and groups in the Bay Area, officials from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have called off the aerial spraying in populated areas they had planned to restart this summer in an attempt to eradicate the light brown apple moth (LBAM).

    The CDFA had planned to set up a program to spray as often as 3 times a month over 9 months of the year for 5 years or more to attempt to eradicate the moth.  However, just as with the WNv controversy, officials seemed to ignore the science of the matter.

      Entomologists initially said that eradication is not possible and that the spraying should not be done.  Nonetheless, the CDFA persevered.  See a KPIX Channel 5 report, which raises significant questions about both the efficacy and safety of the spray, in which A.G. Kawamura, Secretary of the CDFA, dismisses opposition by a UC Davis entomology professor and expert in invasion biology with the false claim that he is not an entomologist.  His staff later said he was "confused."  It is not clear what is confusing about the credentials of expert entomologists, but as in the case of spraying urban areas for West Nile virus there does indeed seem to be a confusion on the part of officials about both the efficacy and safety of what they are doing, perhaps stemming from a general confusion about what constitutes scientific evidence. 

    See a theatrical video "LBAM Takes San Francisco."

    On May 12, Judge Robert O’Farrell ruled "that California’s Agriculture Secretary, A.G. Kawamura, violated the law when the state aerially sprayed untested, ‘secret’ pesticides on cities, children and wildlife." The judge then ordered the spraying stopped until the CDFA completes an Environmental Impact Report.

    On June 19, CDFA officials called off the spraying.  In so doing "Kawamura admitted he found the public outcry 'troubling' and said it showed his agency had to perform more outreach."  So, instead of paying attention to the science and facts and permanently dispensing with the urban-spray protocol, Kawamura decides that his agency needs to put more effort into convincing people that a flawed protocol should be used.  This is the same sort of convoluted reasoning we face on a regular basis in the controversy over the spraying of urban areas for WNv.