Spraying for Money or Moths?

That’s the question being raised after the San Francisco Chronicle discovered that the maker of the pesticide CheckMate is a wealthy agribusinessman and generous supporter of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials. Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles owns several nut and citrus tracks in California, and is the world’s largest producer of almonds. (The soaring price of almonds, by the way, is helping contribute to the rise in beehive heists, according to a report by the California Report) The US Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have stated that the recent arrival of the invasive light brown apple moth poses a threat to the state’s $32 billion agricultural industry, undoubtedly affecting Resnick’s crops, and that aerial pesticide spraying is necessary to stop its spread. But some question whether the spraying would be effective, is even necessary, or what effect it would have on humans. Though CheckMate is one of four pesticides being considering for spraying over the Bay Area, it was used last fall over Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, where residents reported asthma attacks, burning eyes, sore throats, and other allergy-like symptoms. In the Chron article, a spokesman for the governor stated that Resnick’s political donations – nearly $150K in recent years – have no bearing on the governor’s support for aerial spraying.

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