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Hall Coalition in the News
deserves a say in battling pest
Lynn Hamilton and Tara Treasurefield
(Press Democrat, 8/15/00)
friends in the wine industry are living in fear of an insect.
The glassy-winged sharpshooter is one of the bugs that carries
Pierce's disease, which can be deadly to wine grapes.
in its rush to protect the wine industry, the state has given
the rest of us cause for alarm. County agricultural commissioners
have the authority to keep the sharpshooter out of vineyards
by spraying pesticides on other properties, whether the owners
like it or not.
This threatens the health and welfare of the community as a
whole, particularly children, the elderly, people with compromised
immune systems, and organic and biodynamic farmers.
state Legislature and the federal government each have allocated
$15 million of taxpayer funds to fight Pierce's disease.
investing in sound agricultural practices is good for the economy,
good for the environment and good for the people, this money
should be used to develop non-chemical and least-toxic methods
of pest control.
so far, the opposite is occurring.
citrus grove in Temecula that's less than a mile from a housing
development has been aerial sprayed twice with the nerve toxin
Lorsban, and in Tulare, Fresno and Sacramento counties, another
nerve toxin, Sevin, is being ground-sprayed in residential areas.
is highly toxic to honeybees, butterflies and other beneficial
insects. For humans, it can cause nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea,
sweating, blurred vision, loss of motor control and convulsions.
Children's developing nervous systems are particularly vulnerable.
agriculture is well-represented in decision-making around Pierce's
rest of us are not.
interests are being served? Who's protecting the children, the
sick, the elderly and our natural resources?
at risk of direct exposure to highly toxic pesticides without
our consent, and we're paying for this with our tax dollars.
This amounts to taxation without representation.
a critical need for immediate actions that focus on non-chemical
and least-toxic means of Pierce's disease control, including:
Quarantining shipments of nursery stock and produce from infested
Using kaolin clay, soap, neem, cinaminic acid,native predatory
insects, and other organic/biodynamic alternatives.
Eliminating agricultural practices that encourage disease, such
as overwatering, monocropping, habituating crops to chemicals
and pesticides, and planting near areas that are Pierce's disease
the understanding that protecting the public health and the
environment must come first, the Town Hall Coalition offers
10 recommendations regarding Pierce's disease control:
Change the way industrial vineyards are managed: compost; reduce
the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides; plant cover
crops; mow between rows; increase riparian setbacks to 150 to
300 feet; replant with drought-tolerant root stock to allow
for dry farming; stop removing host and native plants from riparian
corridors; adopt organic and biodynamic standards.
Create a statewide task force that oversees and approves all
control measures, and includes representatives from public health
and environmental organizations, public interest toxicologists,
small-scale organic and biodynamic farmers, and residents of
areas impacted by Pierce's disease policy. Task force meetings
must be open to the public, and must be advertised widely and
well in advance.
Require all affected counties to hold public hearings that involve
the public in real decision-making about local control measures.
Quarantine all shipments of nursery stock, vines and produce
from infested counties. Pesticides must not be used as a means
for allowing items to be shipped.
Use pesticides only as a last resort, and NEVER on private property
over the objections of the owner. Residents must have the right
to refuse pesticide spraying on their own property.
Prohibit spraying of organic and transitional farms against
the farmers' wishes, and protect organic and transitional farms
from drift resulting from pesticide applications to other properties.
Prohibit aerial application of any pesticides to control Pierce's
Prohibit the use of carcinogens, reproductive toxins, EPA Category
I and II acute pesticides, and nerve poisons, including Lorsban
Prohibit the use of genetically modified materials to combat
Ensure that neighbors within a one-mile radius of vineyards
to be sprayed receive at least 24-hour advance notice. Use application
methods that pose the least potential harm to the public health
and the environment.
Town Hall Coalition calls upon the Board of Supervisors to defend
the health and welfare of the people of Sonoma County. We repeat
our July 18 request for a public hearing and ask that it be
held by Aug. 22.
public must be allowed to participate in making decisions about
Pierce's disease control in Sonoma County.
also ask our Board of Supervisors to urge the state of California
to hold similar public hearings by Aug. 31 and to establish
a Pierce's disease task force that represents all the people,
not just special interests.
residents to give up their property rights and the right to
a chemical-free home every time a pest gets out of control is
unacceptable, particularly since some members of the agricultural
community set the stage for insect infestations and disease.
interests can help restore the balance of nature by taking care
of the soil, water, wildlife, farmland ecology and the community
as a whole.
are simply asking vintners and growers to be good neighbors.
Hamilton is a founding member of the Town Hall Coalition. Tara
Treasurefield is chair of the coalition's toxics committee.
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