Chemicals and quarantines - Page 2

San Francisco officials resist plans to use aerial spraying against a potentially damaging moth
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But we have told all those companies that hope to provide products that they should expect to reveal them all."

Critics of the state's pheromone spraying program observe that Suterra LLC, which manufactured the spray used over Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, refused to release the full ingredients until it was sued — and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demanded immediate full disclosure.

These same critics also note that Schwarzenegger, who continues to support CDFA's LBAM-eradication program, received $144,600 in campaign contributions from Los Angeles–based Roll International owners Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who control Suterra, Fiji Water, Paramount Agribusiness, and the Franklin Mint.

Records show the Resnicks donate broadly, mostly to Democrats — including the gubernatorial campaigns of Steve Westly and Phil Angelides, and US Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama — with a lesser-size donation to Republican presidential front-runner John McCain, proving they play both sides of the fence.

With researchers testing a variety of LBAM-related products in New Zealand, Hawkins hopes to have a product formulated for California by June 1, which is when spraying is scheduled to resume in Santa Cruz and Monterey; spraying in the Bay Area is set for Aug. 1.

"We would like to give communities maximum notice, but we're also working towards a beginning-of-June date, and as much as we'd like to insert artificial time frames, the insect couldn't care less. It's on a biological time table and is multiplying every day," Hawkins said.

David Dilworth of the Monterey nonprofit group Helping Our Peninsula's Environment, which advocates the use of targeted pheromone-baited sticky traps, conceded that even if CDFA was forced to stop the aerial spraying, the USDA could spray anyway.

"But it would take them several months to organize, and we don't believe they have the constitutional power," claimed Dilworth, whose organization is preparing a 60-day notice of intent to sue the USDA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, organic farmers find themselves in an uncomfortable limbo that continues to shift. Take the Santa Cruz–based California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Last fall, CCOF supported the aerial pheromone spray after the National Organics Program approved it, meaning sprayed farmers didn't lose organic certification

But March 4, CCOF spokesperson Viella Shipley told the Guardian that the group is about to release a revised position on the spraying, and could not comment further "because CCOF's government affairs committee has not yet approved this revised position."

"We lobbied for an organically approved product and supported it last fall when lots of our members were suffering because they were in quarantine and couldn't sell beyond county lines," was all Shipley would say.

Meanwhile, organic farmers who spoke on condition of anonymity largely supported aerial spraying for economic and environmental reasons.

"If the moth isn't dealt with now, it'll become a bigger problem, from both an environmental and toxic perspective," one farmer told us, citing the already high costs of controlling such bugs as coddling moths and medflies.

"This is somebody else's pest at the moment, a nonnative pest," he said. "If farmers have to start dealing with LBAM as well, they'll be ruined."

He also cited his belief that there aren't 40 million pheromone-soaked twist ties on the market, which is what the CDFA claims is needed to blanket infested counties from the ground up with female pheromones to confuse the males.

Nigel Walker, an organic farmer in Dixon, recalled the devastating costs of quarantine thanks to a medfly-infested mango that someone brought back from Hawaii.

"Their vacation cost me $60,000 because of lost sales," Walker said.