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Bay Area Population to be Sprayed with Unregistered Pesticide

The people who live in the Bay area of California are about to be sprayed with a new pesticide not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a pre-emptive strive against a non-existent threat.

 “In August, the California Department of Food and Agriculture plans to spray pesticides in five Bay Area counties” (CBS 5, 2008) in response to a perceived threat from the Light Brown Apple Moth. One of the chemicals being used is Checkmate, manufactured by Suterra, LLC, which is owned by Stewart Resnick, one of the richest men in California, and owner of the largest farming operation of tree crops in the world. Mr. Resnick is also included in California Governor Schwarzenegger’s top 100 donors. (Arnold Watch, 2008) 

Mr. Resnick has developed and owns a number of successful companies including Paramount Agribusiness, the largest farming operation of tree crops in the world, which includes Paramount Citrus, Paramount Farming and Paramount Farms, growers, processors and marketers of citrus, almonds and pistachios; POM Wonderful, grower of pomegranates and maker of the all-natural POM Wonderful pomegranate juice; Teleflora, the largest floral wire service in the world; FIJI Water, the second largest imported bottled water in the United States and the newest member of the Roll family of companies; The Franklin Mint, a leader in high-quality collectibles; and Suterra, the largest biorational pest control company in the United States. (Political Friendster, 2006) 

The pesticide used to spray Santa Cruz last year was the same product, but without a new active ingredient. The new and improved Checkmate contains two active ingredients. It is this version that will be used on Bay Area residents. The new version of the pesticide contains an active ingredient that has not been approved by the EPA. The picture below shows the original ingredient, (E)-11-tetradecen-1-yl acetate, which was in the original product, and the second ingredient, (E,E)-9,11-tetradecadien-1-yl acetate, which was not, and is the ingredient currently under exemption from EPA registration. 


(C&EN, 2007) 

Tests have been conducted with the original version of Checkmate, but not on such a large scale. 

It is the second active ingredient, (E,E)-9,11-tetradecadien-1-yl acetate, that is the wild card. The EPA has not approved this new ingredient! In fact, the EPA has granted an exemption just for the Bay Area spraying and waived the public comment period due to the “emergency situation.” The following is taken from the EPA site: 

SUMMARY: EPA has received a quarantine exemption request from the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant HealthInspection Service (USDA/APHIS) to use the pesticide (E,E)-9,11-tetradecadien-1-yl acetate (CAS No. 30562-09-5) to treat host plants tocontrol the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM). The Applicant proposes theuse of a new chemical which has not been registered by EPA. Due to the unique nature of this emergency situation, in which the time to reviewthe conditions of this situation was short, it was not possible toissue a solicitation for public comment, in accordance with 40 CFR166.24, prior to the Agency’s decision to grant these exemptions. 

DATES: EPA is waiving the public comment period, as allowed in 40 CFR166.24, due to the short period of time available with which to reviewthis situation and render a timely decision. However, comments maystill be submitted and will be evaluated. (EPA, 2007) 

This exemption is dated July 2007. The spraying is to begin in August 2008, over a year after the exemption was granted. “Because of that exemption, the spraying program isn’t subject to state approval, according to representatives of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation” (Kay, 2008). 

Just what is this emergency situation? Some say that it is no emergency at all. According to botanist Daniel Harder, Executive Director of the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, “It’s not such a nasty pest. You’re not going to see a plant succumbing to the Light Brown Apple Moth.” The bug is considered a minor pest in New Zealand, where it arrived from Australia, they say. (Kay, 2008) 

No eradication measures have been taken against the moth in New Zealand, and none are planned. The moth is a minor pest whose larvae are eaten by earwigs, birds, and spiders. Furthermore, “there is no widespread infestation of the light brown apple moth [in the U.S.], but U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say they are trying to head off a potential disaster” (Kay, 2008). Therefore, Bay Area residents will be sprayed with an untested unregulated pesticide on the pretense of this non-existent emergency by Stewart Resnick, owner of the largest farming operation of tree crops in the world, and one of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top 100 contributors, and are basically told to just shut up and take it. Cities to be sprayed are as follows:

Alameda County:

Contra Costa County:
El Cerrito
El Sobrante
Pinole-N. Richmond
San Pablo

San Francisco County:
San Francisco

San Mateo County:
Daly City
San Bruno
South San Francisco

Marin County:
San Pablo
Corte Madera

Copyright 2008, Barbara H. Peterson    References: Arnold Watch. (2008). Arnold’s Top 100 Donors. Retrieved from: http://www.arnoldwatch.org/special_interests/index.html C&EN. (2007). Rancor over Pesticide Spraying in California. Retrieved from: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/85/i46/8546news3.html 

CBS 5. (2008). Outrage over Planned Bay Area Apple Moth Spraying. Retrieved from: http://cbs5.com/local/apple.moth.spraying.2.662703.html 

EPA. (2007). Federal Register Environmental Documents. Retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/EPA-PEST/2007/July/Day-06/p12872.htm 

Free Patents Online. (2008). Communication Disturbing Agents and Method for Disturbing Communication. Retrieved from: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP0962137.html 

Kay, J. (2008). Experts Question Plan to Spray to Fight Moths. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/06/MN69VD309.DTL 

Kay, J. (2008). State Plans Bay Area Pesticide Spraying. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from:  http://www.sfgate.com:80/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/15/MN99V2PMN.DTL 

Political Friendster. (2006). Rate the Roll International Corporation – Stewart Resnick Connection. Retrieved from: http://www.politicalfriendster.com/rateConnection.php?id1=5223&id2=5220

10 Responses

  1. Hmm…seems odd that the EPA, a federal agency, would neglect to go through a full EIS process for such a large project. Or will they?

    Plus, it seems like this isn’t even technically an insecticide, so much as it is a tool to disrupt the reproduction of the moth:

    “The Applicant proposes to place the pheromone dispensers in tree crops and field crops. Dispensers are to be applied uniformly throughout the treated acreage to obtain a reduction in mating. Between
    200 to 300 dispensers should be used per acre.”

    From what I’m reading, it doesn’t even seem like there will be any sort of “spraying,” per se. Though I guess it may leech into water, etc.

    What do you think? It still bothers me that they aren’t testing it (that’s a bad idea), but it also seems relatively benign…

  2. Hi Bryson,

    The article specifies Pesticide. Here is the definition from http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/#what_pesticide:

    “What is a pesticide?

    A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or
    mitigating any pest.”

    Also, here is the definition of insecticide, taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insecticide:

    “An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects in all developmental forms. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind the increase in agricultural productivity in the 20th century. Nearly all insecticides have the potential to significantly alter ecosystems; many are toxic to humans; and others are concentrated in the food chain. It is necessary to balance agricultural needs with environmental and health issues when using insecticides.”

    And it is a spraying program. “The state agriculture department plans to use airplanes at night this summer to spray a farm pesticide over urban San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay” (

    The quote you use is not applicable to this program. What is the source?

    The fact that the populace is being sprayed with an unregistered pesticide at the whim of the richest almond-grower in the world on the pretext of an emergency that does not exist should be cause for concern to anyone.

  3. The quote I used is most certainly applicable; or at least I hope it is, because it was a link you posted as a source. =)

    Check this out, too:


    Seems like the chemical is simply used to trap male moths, not directly kill them like an organophosphate. Though the study apparently addresses a different species of moth, I can’t imagine there being much of a difference in application because of a difference in species.

    There is an aerial treatment, but just like the ground treatments, it’s all just synthetic pheromones. You’re being drowned in moth perfume, not cancer-causing DDT or something.

  4. Hi Bryson,

    You wrote:

    ““The Applicant proposes to place the pheromone dispensers in tree crops and field crops. Dispensers are to be applied uniformly throughout the treated acreage to obtain a reduction in mating. Between
    200 to 300 dispensers should be used per acre.”

    From what I’m reading, it doesn’t even seem like there will be any sort of “spraying,” per se. Though I guess it may leech into water, etc.”

    Since this is a spraying program, placing containers in trees does not apply. This was taken from my research material, and not stated in the article itself because they are not placing containers in trees, they are spraying everyone and everything.

    You may be correct in that the substance is simply moth perfume, and not harmful to the public. However, there is evidence to the contrary, based on the Santa Cruz experience:

    “In late 2007, there were 643 documented health complaints (www.1hope.org/SPRAYCOMPLES.PDF) from the aerial spray program conducted in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Keep in mind that this documentation is a mere fraction of the real health effects, as no legitimate effort was made to inform even doctors on how to recognize pesticide poisoning.”

    The fact that the new and improved product has an ingredient that is unregistered, and not going to be before the spraying begins, should elicite some alarm bells. Using unregistered pesticides is not a safe practice, and the people being sprayed with these pesticide are akin to guinea pigs.

  5. They are using ground dispensers; go to the EPA website. Or click on the link I provided above. Here’s another good one that specifically addresses the claim that 600 people were sickened by the chemical:

    Click to access LBAM_Claims_Responses_040108.pdf

    I don’t see how a teaspoon of moth perfume used over an entire acre could really cause as many problems as you’re suggesting.

  6. Your information is wrong. This is taken from the USDA site at


    Specifically, page 6:

    “Additional aerial applications of the pheromone to Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as well as the LBAM population center in the San Francisco-Alameda-Contra Costa County area, are anticipated to begin in
    June 2008.”

    Aerial applications means spraying! This is not a teaspoon of perfume in a ground dispenser on an acre of land. I don’t know how much clearer this can be.

  7. I stand corrected. Evidently ground containers are being used as well as the aerial spraying. Thank you for bringing this up!

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