The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revoked approval of two
moth pesticides pulled from aerial spraying over a dozen California
counties last year when residents argued in a Santa Cruz court that the
government failed to adequately assess health and environmental
Residents now worry that another unknown pesticide may be used to
combat the light brown apple moth.
The EPA determined last month that two Checkmate products, which
sparked complaints in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties in 2007, were not
needed because other products are available.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has promised no
new aerial spraying in urban areas, is breeding and releasing sterile
moths as a way to keep down the population.
On Monday, the mayors of Albany and Richmond; several residents; and a
grassroots group, the North Coast Rivers Alliance, asked a U.S. District
Court judge in San Francisco to dismiss their lawsuit last year alleging
that the EPA did not adequately evaluate the public risks from two
Checkmate pesticides, causing widespread harm to people, pets and
The federal Agriculture Department, citing the potential loss of
millions of dollars in crops and ornamentals, had asked the EPA for the
emergency exemption that led to use of the pesticides on 83,500 acres
without the state evaluation and approval.
Department spokesman Larry Hawkins said no new pheromone will be
selected until the state completes an environmental review, which is
expected in June.
Meanwhile, scientists have trapped 88,000 moths in 15 counties, most of
them in the Bay Area, since 2007, he said.
In the past year, scientists have produced thousands of light brown
apple moths in labs, which they will radiate to sterilize and then
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year put on hold plans to spray 12
counties, most of them in the Bay Area, until safety tests were done.
One of the products tested was Hercon's Disrupt Bio-Flake, which the
EPA registered in January as a pheromone pesticide that interferes with
mating of the moth.
Tests on animals for acute effects, but not chronic effects, showed no
immediate problems. The pesticide is made with an active pheromone and
three undisclosed other ingredients. Hercon must apply for registration in
California and undergo an evaluation that could take months.
Stephan Volker, an Oakland attorney representing the residents in last
year's suit against the EPA, said residents want to know all of the
ingredients in any product.
While the EPA contends that federal pesticide laws allow the
manufacturers to keep the inert ingredients secret, Volker said "the law
allows EPA to disclose the ingredients where necessary to protect public
This article appeared on page B - 3 of the
San Francisco Chronicle