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From Farmer Tom: Living with a new and exotic immigrant: LBAM
Greetings from Farmer Tom
Once not too long ago, we were made believe that DDT would safely eliminate Codling Moths in our apple orchards; now we know the many lethal side effects this ‘silver bullet’ approach to controlling nature had, and most likely still has, today. Nobody likes to be sprayed on, no matter what the product or intent, especially if information is incomplete and community involvement is rushed and bypassed. It is warranted to question and oppose authorities who try to eradicate an insect using emergency powers and avoiding more socially acceptable control methods.
I would favor the recommended use of pheromones to manage the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), since I am familiar with using pheromones myself in our apple and pear orchards to control the mating of Codling Moths. However, we don't spray and inhale the pheromones and the potentially toxic medium it is contained in for aerial spraying; we only use traps and twist-ties placed in the trees. I am completely opposed to these pheromones being sprayed over a large urban population, without understanding the impact and efficaciousness of this approach. As a farmer, my intent in controlling an insect is to minimize their damage to our crops, knowing full well that with any living organism, whether an exotic new arrival such as LBAM or a more established one such as the Codling Moth, all I am trying to achieve is a favorable coexistence. To take a stance of wanting to fully eradicate a living organism, at whatever cost, is an approach conceived in arrogance where the underlying premise is based on a philosophy that nature exists for the convenience of man alone. Such a narrow view of nature, coupled with the power of special business and government interests creates a general sense of fear and mistrust.
I like what Pesticide Action Network, a non-profit group based in San Francisco, required before any spraying takes place:
1. Scientific evidence documenting how and why aerial application of the pheromone is expected to be efficacious.
2. Epidemiological or occupational health studies of effects of aerial pheromone releases in Australia where the moth is originally from. In the absence of such studies, independent assessment of public health/epidemiological literature and of the illness reports from the Monterey aerial releases.
3. Findings from a recently initiated UC Davis research project on local environmental impacts from the Monterey aerial releases.
4. Public presentations of all the studies and a comparative assessment of the relative risks and efficacy of the range of least toxic alternatives available for LBAM control.
5. Establishment of a broad based Environmental Justice-type committee, consisting of local community members, growers (organic and conventional), local conservationists, environmental groups and independent experts in entomology, toxicology and public health, to collaborate in finding efficacious and ecologically and socially acceptable solutions to LBAM control.
I am sure that by abandoning our attitude of human superiority we can learn how to share this earth with other creatures and, using our imagination and creativity, do so peacefully and cooperatively. – Tom