California Releases Draft Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program

CCOF encourages you to review California’s proposed plan for invasive plant pest management. A draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) describing the plan is open for comment through October 31, 2014.

In a recent press conference, Sandy Schubert, undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), stated that the plan offers CDFA’s best assessment of on-the-ground pest management practices and details the state’s decision-making process in taking pest management actions.

Laura Petro, CDFA’s Senior Environmental Scientist, said, “This report reflects California’s commitment to using an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach.” She also noted that it provides a comprehensive human health and ecological risk assessment.

Interesting details from the draft EIR include:

  • Impact of pesticide sprays on or near certified organic farms. The EIR concludes that while drift or application of prohibited materials is possible and could cause organic product to be marketed as conventional, it would not result in decertification of affected operations.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Pesticide Alternative. The EIR considered allowing only natural or synthetic pesticide products appearing on the National List of Synthetic Substances Allowed for Use in Organic Crop Production in conjunction with use of biological control and cultural practices. However, the EIR concluded that organic options would not eradicate or control some high priority pests.
  • Aerial Spraying. A footnote on pages 2-3 and 4-10 specifies “Aerial spraying would not occur in residential areas.” (This detail is significant to people who remember the aerial sprays for light brown apple moth in 2007.)
  • Economic Impacts on Organic Farms. The EIR discusses the economic impacts on organic farms of being exposed to prohibited substances and concludes “no impact would occur.”
  • Potential Harm to Wild and Managed Pollinator Populations. EIR concludes “no impact would occur” from pesticide use as outlined in the management plan. An appendix to the report outlines the steps that California takes to protect pollinators. However, use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been demonstrated to kill bees and have a range of negative sublethal impacts on them, continues to be part of California’s pest management strategy.

The full document is available at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/peir/index.html#doc. Submit comments via email to PEIR.info@cdfa.ca.gov (please include your name and contact information). Additionally, a series of public meetings will be held around the state beginning September 22. For a list of meetings, visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/peir/docs/Public-Hearings-Draft-PEIR-2014.pdf.

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