California Government Tells Millions of Residents: "Fuck You!"
In California everything revolves around the state's agribusiness lobby. Whenever they yell "Jump!" their government prostitutes yell back "How high Sir?" And right now these skanks are getting ready to jump again.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is planning a massive aerial pesticide-spraying campaign this summer. Agribusiness is worried about the light brown apple moth. "Jump!"
Last fall there was a more "limited" spray campaign: Helicopters inundated Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties with a chemical mist. 487 people reported various medical symptoms after the spraying was done. State officials insisted that there was no clear link between the pesticide-spraying and people's breathing problems.
And now a bigger and better spray campaign is being planned for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to the health hazards, a lot of local officials are worried about economic devastation. The entire 9-county Bay Area is dependent upon tourism. How many vacationers will want to go there if every leaf and blade of grass has been (or is about to be) coated with poison?
The local real estate industry is also threatened. Sellers will have to warn potential buyers about the looming probability (and/or the after-effects) of being blanketed with pesticides. Failure to disclose this information would result in an expensive lawsuit.
And — not that it matters a flying fuck to the Powers That Be — organic farmers would lose their certification (hence their livelihoods) if their crops were sprayed with pesticides.
My only personal experience with this situation was in Sonoma County, CA. (I left California in 2004.) During the summer of 2001, the wine industry — Sonoma County's 800-pound gorilla — was threatened by the glassy-winged sharpshooter. If one was found, there would be spraying; no ifs ands or buts. Back yards, open windows, children, people with respiratory problems, pets — all fair game.
Fortunately, none were found; but it was a pretty tense summer.
I don't know the details of other insect pests, but the grape growers' farming practices attract and exacerbate pests. I assume that's true of modern agriculture in general.
Having a monoculture (thousands of perfectly lucrative orchards and vegetable fields were chopped down and plowed over and replaced by vineyards) makes insect pests much more likely. And there were other non-lethal methods the grape growers could have used, but they were either too "unsightly" (coating the grape vines with a harmless ash that would make them unattractive to insects) or they might cause a .01% profit reduction (leaving a few trees or shrubs around the periphery of the vineyard instead of planting grapes on every square inch).
Also, the nursery industry (another 800-pound gorilla) was partly responsible for this. The glassy winged sharpshooter is native to southern California; the species comes north by being imported on plants shipped and sold by nurseries. The nursery industry could prevent insect pests from being exported to other regions, but that would be too much effort and/or a .01% profit reduction.
This should be an interesting summer for the Bay Area. Here are some other links to the California spray controversy.
cross-posted at Bring It On!