Resnick and the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM)


Text by Sarah Phelan


When I read Lance Williams' article about a corporate farmer who used his political connections to try and influence the Delta water wars debate, the corporate farmer's name sounded familiar. So, I checked-- and sure enough, Stewart Resnick's name popped up, only this time in an article that I wrote about the contentious, controversial and ongoing fight about how best to control the Light Brown Apple Moth--and whether the aerial spraying of urban areas with a moth pheromone was ever really necessary.

As the Guardian article about the LBAM debate noted, "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."

The article also observed that, "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 (my bold), 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," the Guardian's article concludes.

And as William's recent article notes, "Underpinning [the Resnicks'] fortune is agribusiness – 70,000 acres of pistachios and almonds, 48,000 acres of citrus and pomegranates – most of it in Kern County at the south end of the San Joaquin Valley, and all requiring irrigation to survive."

In other words, the Resnicks' agribusiness empire could be negatively impacted if other countries refused to import their produce, because of LBAM-related fears, even if those fears were unfounded.. Conversely, the Resnicks' business interests stood to gain if the state mandated the widespread aerial spraying of a synthetic pheromone by a company (Suterra) that the Resnicks controlled.

I'm not saying that's why the state ended up pushing its controversial aerial spraying plan, until public pressure stopped that plan in its tracks, but it sure is an interesting question


I am really torn between allowing produce from anywhere into the USA and keeping the dollars and jobs at home. As bad as it may be we regulate our agriculture industry in the USA. There is some oversight and if damaged there is someone to sue. When we allow imports with no real oversight of production, harvest, storage and transportation we depend on people who don't have any idea of sanitation or hygiene to plant, pick, pack and oversee the quality of our food supply. Sure, it's easy to kick Resnick around, but you can kick him. Try kicking a produce grower in Guatemala or Ecuador.
Thank God you idiots don't stay in charge long!

Posted by Ed Dennis on Dec. 09, 2009 @ 5:17 am

Stewart Resnick became the largest citrus distributor in North America during the time that the US restricted southern hemisphere citrus unnecessarily due to LBAM. Lots of "Coincidences" when it comes to Resnick and Government policy.

Resnick bought Suterra pesticide company just a few years prior to getting the contract for the LBAM program ...just another coincidence.

By the way, a federal lawsuit was filed by the Volker Law Firm against the EPA for giving an emergency exemption to the Checkmate pesticide used on Santa Cruz and Monterey communities. The Checkmate exemption was revoked and Checkmate is now illegal in the United States. In other words, the Checkmate toxin that was aerially sprayed on central coast communities is now illegal. If you are one of those who believed and preached "It was just a pheromone," you may consider giving an apology to some of your neighbors whose kids and families suffered from it, some still suffering.

Posted by Information Man on Dec. 08, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

Agreed! Two years after the atrocious, hazardous, experimental, unnecessary and ultimately unsuccessful aerial spraying of communities here in the Monterey Bay area this issue remains unsolved.
For now the state's campaign to "eradicate" the moth has shifted to areas within California where less public resistance is expected (Sonoma, Napa, Central Valley), but don't hold your breath, the airplanes are scheduled to return to spray over "forested areas" (Nisene Marks, for example) and with a drift of over 3 miles... we'll be all impacted again.

Posted by ij on Dec. 08, 2009 @ 7:05 pm