State agriculture officials plan to appeal a superior court judge's ruling that halts aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth in Monterey County until an environmental impact report can be completed.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell ruled that the discovery of the moth - a pest that is considered a threat to the state's agricultural economy - does not constitute a legal emergency. He ordered the aerial spraying of a moth pheromone pesticide stopped until a report on the environmental effects of the spraying operation can be completed in January.
In a similar action on April 24 a judge halted aerial spraying for LBAM over Santa Cruz County. Within hours Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced spraying would be suspended all over the state until a series of health tests on the pheromone used in the spraying are completed. Because of the governor's stance, spraying in the state cannot start until at least August 17. Spraying in the East Bas was scheduled to start Aug. 1.
A.G. Kawamura, state agriculture secretary, said the state Department of Food and Agriculture would appeal the decision immediately, combining it with a similar decision in Santa Cruz County decision.
"The light brown apple moth infestation is, in fact, an emergency that threatens our nation's food supply and our state's environment," he says.
The moth species was first detected in Berkeley about a year ago, and specimens have since turned up in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties, though no damage has been reported. The state agency plans to spray the pheromone this summer in hopes of getting rid of the pest by interrupting its mating cycle.