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Smith River Easter Lily Bulbs - A Case For Economic Withdrawal
by Tomas DiFiore
Tuesday Mar 13th, 2018 12:33 PM
An American Profile of Toxic Landscapes: Smith River Estuary lily bulb farmers apply an annual average of 300,000 pounds of highly toxic pesticides on about 1,000 acres of lily fields that drain directly into the Smith River estuary every year. California Department of Pesticide Regulation data on annual pesticide use reveals 1)Restricted material use permits issued to Del Norte County growers (2009-2013) show widespread pesticide use. Read about (CDPR) California Pesticide Agency’s “Phony Award to Easter Lily Farmers” that was later rescinded!
Smith River Easter Lily Bulbs - A Case For Economic Withdrawal

BOYCOTT Smith River Easter Lilies across America!
An American Profile of Toxic Landscapes

“The Smith River estuary provides essential habitat for salmon. However, Smith River Estuary lily bulb farmers apply an annual average of 300,000 pounds of highly toxic pesticides on some 1,000 acres of lily fields that drain directly into the Smith River estuary every year. This concentration of pesticide use is as high or higher than anywhere else in the state, and almost all of it occurs in along salmon streams. Recent water testing by the state (2013-2015) has turned up 10 instances of contamination within the salmon food chain, and 17 pesticides in surface waters. The domestic water supply for the town of Smith River turned up a chemical that has been banned in California.”

“In 2010 and 2013, water testing by the California North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board uncovered 'acute (and) chronic reproductive toxicity' in three of the four streams that feed the Smith River estuary, meaning that invertebrates that make up the basis of the salmonid food chain cannot reproduce in these waters.”

Smith River Easter lily bulbs are sold throughout the country as part of Easter celebrations. The Siskiyou Land Conservancy asks that the public boycott non-organic Easter lilies until their chemical pollution is regulated - but the regulatory agencies have abandoned reason.

Boycott Smith River Easter Lilies – Keep Purity In Your Heart

“In late January, 2018, the state agency charged with enforcing the federal Clean Water Act released a long-awaited report on the results of two years of water quality testing in the Smith River Estuary. The testing detected 17 pesticides in the streams, creeks and ditches that feed the estuary, and 10 instances of contamination of the aquatic food chain.”

“Most of the land surrounding the Smith River Estuary is used to produce Easter lily bulbs, a process that uses 300,000 pounds of toxic pesticides annually. The Water Board report notes that “agricultural activities on the Smith River Plain are affecting the water quality” in the estuary. However, in a conference call with stakeholders prior to the report’s release, Water Board staff stated that its findings of widespread contamination cannot be attributed to the 17 toxic pesticides found in surface waters. The contamination is occurring due to the water’s 'lack of hardness', said one of the scientists as well as the report. Water Board staff said they planned to ask the lily growers for voluntary actions and best management practices to address possible pesticide exposure.”

“Five of the pesticides found in the estuary occurred at levels that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Aquatic Life Benchmarks, meaning they are considered hazardous to fish and other creatures. High levels of copper - which is extremely toxic to fish and is used widely in Smith River as a pesticide - were found in every water sample. When small aquatic organisms that make up the basis of the salmonid food chain were exposed to the water in a laboratory, many of them either died or failed to reproduce.”

Sign the Siskiyou Land Conservancy Petition at
"Easter Lilies are Poisoning Salmon/People on Smith River"

“No matter that one may try to understand the economic plight of lily growers, DO NOT accept their intensive use of very dangerous chemicals in a small, localized area to produce another ornamental flower. Do NOT purchase Smith River Easter lily bulbs.”

Documented Higher Annual Pesticide Use

“California Department of Pesticide Regulation data on annual pesticide use reveals that, measured in pounds, the amount of pesticides applied in Del Norte in 2012 was about 65 percent higher than it was in 1992. Restricted material use permits issued locally to Del Norte County growers between 2009 and 2013 show that the widespread pesticide use remained largely the same even as two chemicals were phased out by order of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

"In 2012 lily growers applied 115,930 pounds of 1,3-dichloropropene and 131,913 pounds of metam sodium (the chemical that, in 1991, spilled into the Sacramento River, killing everything for 40 stream miles before diluting in Lake Shasta). These are both highly toxic, carcinogenic fumigants that disrupt reproduction in many species, including salmon but also humans. Both pesticides have seen dramatic increases on Easter lily fields over the past 20 years, and especially during the past 10 years, King said, citing figures from CDPR.”

“Oregon-based Easter Lily Research Foundation received an award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for its work to reduce pesticide use on 1,800 acres of farmland in Del Norte County, which has seen an increase in the amount of acutely toxic chemicals annually applied to lily bulb fields of more than 50 percent over the past two decades, based on CDPR records. The Easter Lily Research Foundation is headed up by Lee Riddle, who accepted the state's Integrated Pest Management Award in Sacramento.”

California Pesticide Agency’s Phony Award to Easter Lily Farmers

Historically speaking, check the facts here, in a well authored critique of the evidence:

Back in 2003 SF Gate published a curious story...
“In the 1980s, the insecticide -- 1,2 dichloropropane -- was found in about 80 percent of 45 wells in the lily-growing belt. In 1983, the state suspended both 1,2-DCP and aldicarb, another pesticide found in the wells. But since then, testing by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has been rare. More recently - Testing began again in 2001 and 2002, after repeated requests from the environmental groups. The persistent 1,2-DCP was found in 11 wells. Several pesticides - the carcinogenic chlorothalonil and disulfoton and pentachloronitrobenzene - pose threats to endangered coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead, according to scientists with the Center for Ethics and Toxics, a nonprofit in Gualala (Mendocino County) founded by pesticide expert Marc Lappe.”

“Smith River resident Jack France, a truck driver whose home is next to lily fields, worries about uncontrolled pesticides. "I'm not an environmentalist," he said, "but I know the dangers of pesticides to livestock and runoff to the salmon." France photographed a cloud of pesticides wafting into his yard and across the street last year. His children got nosebleeds and sore throats.”

That was 15 years ago....

Heavy applications of highly toxic pesticides have no place on bottomlands that that surround the vital Smith River estuary.

Along with a conscious Boycott of Smith River Easter lily bulbs, one can write various lawmakers easily by visiting here: Please contact the public representatives below. Insist that the State Water Board and other state and federal agencies enforce applicable laws to protect endangered species and humans from pesticide exposure in and around the Smith River estuary. Fill out the form below to tell the waterboard that heavy applications of highly toxic pesticides have no place on bottomlands that that surround the vital Smith River estuary.

And then one can also send copies of the correspondence to lawmakers/representatives from the site.

I grew up reading the Rodale's Organic (Life). Here's what Rodale's Organic Life has to say:

“Those long stemmed, white trumpeted lilies you ordered last Easter likely came from Smith River, on the border of California and Oregon, where 95% of the world’s Easter lily bulbs are grown. While they're a sight to see blooming en masse, these acres and acres of flowers have a dark and dirty secret: Susceptible to a host of different diseases and insects, Easter lilies require regular spraying and contribute to Smith River’s unfortunate claim to fame as the most pesticide-laden place, acre for acre, in the whole state of California.”

“What to buy instead: Choose the hardier daffodil for your springtime table. These flowers require far fewer pesticides to grow and are easy to source locally.”

We vote with our feet. Let our actions be our prayer.

By invoking the 'Copyright Disclaimer' Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights- Fair use: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If you or anyone wish to use copyrighted material from this article for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tomas DiFiore

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