Press Releases

New Analysis of Apple Moth Pesticides Misses Significant Hazards

Despite significant gaps in the testing of apple moth
pesticides, the California Department of Food and Agriculture recently reported
that a new analysis conducted by three other state agencies "confirms the
products tested are extremely low in toxicity." An analysis of the state report
by researchers at the Center for Environmental Health and Pesticide Action
Network found that the report failed to address potential long-term health
impacts from the pesticides and even omitted analysis of many of the acute
symptoms suffered by people during last year's


"This conclusion is not based on comprehensive testing,"
Said Margaret Reeves, senior scientist at the Pesticide Action Network.  "It
ignores important issues that have been repeatedly raised by the residents of
eradication areas."


  • The toxicology
    studies on which the new analysis is based are designed to measure acute
    (short-term) toxicity. The studies ignore questions about significant health
    hazards, including the potential that the pesticide could cause cancer or birth
    defects, reduce fertility or harm our immune systems. These questions are of
    enormous concern to those who have been or will be exposed to these chemicals.


  • Even short-term
    (acute) health problems are omitted from the tests used in the new analysis. The
    tests do not answer, for example, whether or not the pesticides cause headaches,
    breathing problems, disruption of menstrual cycles, or a host of other problems
    that were reported following last year's spray applications in Monterey and Santa


  • Many of the people
    who were exposed to apple moth pesticides during last year's spraying were
    exposed to the pesticides by breathing in small droplets. The toxicology tests
    used for the new analysis include only one test that looks at the effects of
    being exposed to apple moth pesticides through breathing and that test is
    designed only to measure how much of the pesticide is required to cause death.


  • All of the
    toxicology tests used in the new analysis test a small number of laboratory
    animals and are not adequate to understand how the pesticides impact the
    enormous variety of people who are exposed in an aerial spray program over urban
    areas. Potential impacts on the very young, the sick, and the elderly are all
    omitted from the tests.


  • The pesticide
    through its application within microcapsules is designed to remain active in the
    environment for an extended period of time yet none of the studies of health
    effects considered chronic (long-term) exposures.


"There is no evidence that the apple moth has damaged
crops or native plants in California," said Caroline Cox, research
director at the Center for Environmental Health, "or that eradication of the
moth can actually be achieved. It is never appropriate to expose large numbers
of people to incompletely tested chemicals, especially in an eradication program
based on faulty assumptions."


The California Department of Food and Agriculture also
released a study showing that an apple moth pesticide used last year drifted for
over three miles from the application site. This is further indication that the
impact of the pesticide is poorly understood.