California agricultural officials have decided to abandon plans to restart their controversial aerial spraying program for the light brown apple moth, the Marin Independent Journal reports. But while environmentalists are embracing the news, they’re still concerned about the state Agriculture Department’s plans to use pesticide “ground spray” and cover trees and shrubs with pesticide-laced “twist ties” on both public and private property in areas where the moth has been found.
Environmentalists are particularly worried about plans by state officials to go into people’s back yards or onto school property and use the ground spray or hang up the twist ties on trees and plants without adequate testing — even if property owners object. “Among the disturbing features of the program [is] ... that the state is prepared to use warrants and police to force ground spray on private property if owners refuse,” the group Stop the Spray East Bay said in a statement.
The state decided to drop its plans for aerial spraying not long after the US. Department of Agriculture announced that the light brown apple moth program should shift from eradication to suppression and control. A National Academy of Sciences review last year found that there was little evidence to support a massive state and federal attempt to rid California of a moth that poses a small threat to agriculture. When the state used aerial spraying in 2007 in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, hundreds of people reported becoming sick, prompting a lawsuit that halted the program.