EPA pulls 2 moth pesticides; more in pipeline

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Print Comments 
Font | Size:

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 risks.

More Bay Area News

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 wildlife.

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 release.

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 health."

E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Inside SFGate

Thin The Ranks Your kid have weight issues? Boy Scouts may not take him camping.
Mully Buzzes Off So why wasn't he fired ages ago? Right, this is the Warriors. Ray Ratto.
Space Jam Heaven! The Dead are very alive and a packed Shoreline loved 'em.

Real Estate

Affleck, Garner buy Gregory Peck's place

Acting couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are the latest owners of a California ranch house in LA...

Search Real Estate


Reborn Fiat shakes up Italian stereotype

In a perfect world, so the joke goes, the Germans are the mechanics, the Swiss are the timekeepers and the Italians are the lovers.

Search Cars


Obama wants to ease rules on aid to jobless

President Obama said he wants to make it easier for people to collect unemployment benefits while they go to school or retrain for jobs...

Search Jobs