Call to Action

Sign the petition to stop aerial spraying in Ojai!
Sign the petition HERE!


  • Steve Sprinkel Letter dated September 10, 2019

Steve Sprinkel
Board President
Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture
Ojaicra.org

10 September 2019

Steve Bennett, Ventura County Board of Supervisors
Ed Williams, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner
John Krist, Executive Director, Ventura County Farm Bureau
Johnny Johnston, Mayor of Ojai

Greetings to all.

I hope by now you may have noted that State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (District 19) will be a featured speaker in Ojai at the September 28th Town Hall Meeting titled Health & Pesticides, Climate Change & Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture.

This meeting promises to be a watershed moment for the future of agriculture in Ojai.

Senator Jackson’s attendance notably improves the legitimacy of the effort of citizens in Ojai to educate people and thereby limit the volume of specifically named agricultural substances applied in our valleys.

The challenge to conventional agriculture has been a long time coming.

The purpose of this letter is to ask all of you to attend this meeting. I ask you to consider in advance a conscious, well-conceived response in advance to demonstrate substantive acknowledgment of the grave complaints the community raises.

After working here for twenty years towards transitioning more acreage to non-synthetic chemical production, I believe the dam has burst on public acceptance of the status quo. People are no longer willing to passively sit at home and be sprayed.

This time the core group of antagonists does not feature people so easy to dismiss as an organic farmer. It’s not that they are “media-savvy”. They are media. They are informed, and they understand how to use technology to be educated and to educate.

The Ojai effort is very much like others rising up nationally and internationally. Ultimately the circumstance will be a question of cessation or litigation. The effort to control the Asian Citrus Psyllid with Imidicloprid has failed. Arundo Donax survives no matter how many times we spray it with Roundup.

At this point, anyone willing to learn about our system of agriculture, especially the public sector-private industry relationship to chemical use, will conclude that initial and continued formal permission to use these materials was not merely unethical but criminal.

The concept of “regulatory capture” has now become a cliché.

Argumentation is moot. No one can prove whether or not the 70,000 annually-diagnosed cases of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma are attributable to glyphosate. No one has to. There are hundreds of lawsuits and thousands of plaintiffs. Law firms are fishing for plaintiffs on prime-time cable TV.

Defense of the chemical status-quo in agriculture is unraveling and the prospects for 36,000 Farm Bureau members to dominate public policy are diminishing.  We can’t argue about jobs we really have not cared enough about or a green farm-scape we adore though it’s beginning to have all the appeal of a super fund site.

I knew that one day some risk-assessment manager would have to conclude that their business concern would be exposed to legal liability by using these chemicals or condoning them. The entire University of California system prohibited the use of glyphosate because of this risk, following the first plaintiff victory. The tide has turned.

I think we need to call a truce before we fight. There is very little good will left for chemical agriculture after so many years of disappointment. Let’s plan for a different outcome we can all live with.

Sincerely,

Steve Sprinkel

Health & Pesticides, Climate Change & Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture.
Matilija Auditorium,
703 El Paseo Rd, Ojai, CA 93023
Saturday, Sept 28th, 2019
3pm-6pm
Doors open at 2:15pm


  • September 10, 2019 Letter to  Ojai City Council from Patty Pagaling, Transition to Organics

Sept 9, 2019
To Mayor Johnston and City Council Members,

We would like to invite you to a Town Hall Meeting to be held Sept 28th at Matilija Auditorium in Ojai, 3-6pm.  Doors open at 2:15pm.  Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will be joining us at the event.  We are asking that you all attend and participate.

From a report produced by Wishtoyo Foundation, Agritoxins: Ventura County’s Toxic Time Bomb”:

“Harmful and even deadly exposures can reach our farm worker community as well as our families. Toxic pesticide “agritoxin” use in Ventura County is polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink. Agritoxin refers to the toxic pesticides used in agriculture.”

“This report demonstrates that (1) some of the most hazardous agritoxins are widely used in Ventura County agriculture; (2) these chemicals are extremely toxic and have been linked to numerous adverse health effects, including neurological impairment, birth defects, infertility and cancer; (3) in Ventura County, the general public, farmworkers, children, and elderly are readily exposed to agritoxins; and, (4) agritoxins pollute our air, water, and soil.”

“Agritoxins can cause both short and long term adverse health effects in humans. Examples of acute health effects include severe headaches, blindness, blisters, diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rashes, stinging eyes, and death. Longterm (chronic) adverse health effects include birth defects, cancer, and immunotoxicity, as well as neurological and developmental impairment. Disruption of the endocrine system is another chronic adverse health effect caused by pesticides. Some pesticides mimic the effects of natural human hormones, especially estrogen and thyroxine.”

*****************

One of the toxic synthetic pesticides being sprayed in Ojai in the orchards, a pyrethroid insecticide, Danitol, contains fenpropathrin, is a dopaminergic neurotoxin, linked to causing Parkinson’s’ disease.  It is also highly toxic to bees.

Exposure Symptoms of exposure to pyrethroid pesticides include:  “nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, incoordination, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, and burning and itching sensations.”

Chemical WATCH Factsheet for Beyond Pesticides, http://www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito/documents/SyntheticPyrethroids.pdf

This is just one of the dangerous products that are being sprayed in Ojai.  There are people, including children, and animals in Ojai who are being poisoned.

A prominent lawyer that was contacted concerning this situation said that the first sign that a town is being poisoned is when dogs start having seizures.

We would like to meet with all of you to discuss this serious life-threatening situation that is going on in our county.  We are asking you to protect the health and well being of the people you serve.   The spraying of poisons in our beloved Ojai Valley must stop.

Sincerely,

Patty Pagaling
Ojai, CA 93023
Ph: 805-646-4294

The Good News is that there are healthy solutions.

According to Dr. Elaine Ingham, renowned soil microbiologist, the answer is to maximize the diversity and strength of the life in the soil. When you have healthy, biologically alive soil and a healthy ecosystem, pests and disease-causing organisms are not a problem.  The link to one of Dr. Ingham’s videos:

http://soilfoodwebcourse.com/what-every-farmer-needs-to-kn…/

Especially listen to section: from 11:58 to about 13:46

  1. Stanley Thornton, a colleague of Dr. Ingham, is developing a line of soil amendments, foliar sprays and microbes that he has used to bring dying trees back to productivity.*
  2. Uday Philar of Sequoia Bio Sciences (‪www.sequoiabio.com) in India and American collaborator John Peter Abt of Terawet (www.terawet.com), report that he has successfully reversed the greening disease.*
  3. Steve Pavich, with BioFlora (www.Bioflora.com), a long time organic farmer, is experimenting with a combination of nutrients that will prevent the disease bacteria (liberobacter) from establishing in the plant.*

*References: Healthy Citrus article in Acres, USA by Ron Whitehurst, May 2015

Transition to Organics
ph: 805-646-4294     www.transition-to-organics.org


  • Link to September 9, 2019 letter to  Ventura County Commissioners from Patty Pagaling, Transition to Organics

VC BOS letter Sept 9 2019 agritoxins


  • April 29, 2019 Letter to Ed Williams, Ventura County AG Commissioner and State Pesticide Regulators from Adam Vega, Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety (VC CAPS).

April 29, 2019

Ed Williams
Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Ed.Williams@ventura.org

RE: Request for meeting about UCLA report on Ag Commissioners

Dear Commissioner Williams:

On behalf of the Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety (VC CAPS), I want to thank you again for meeting with us on March 7th and request another meeting with you to address the UCLA report on county ag commissioners, “Governance on the Ground”, at your earliest convenience.

In “Governance on the Ground,” the UCLA researchers found no evidence that county ag commissioners followed the law in evaluating environmental conditions before approving pesticide application permits; namely: a) safer and feasible alternatives and b) other pesticide applications at the same time or nearby which could increase health threats. We know that you were not the Ventura County Ag Commissioner during the period studied (2017), and we also know that the media outlets that quoted you may not have allowed for your entire responses to be heard. We want to understand how you are following the law in the instances addressed by the UCLA research. How do you evaluate alternatives and also how do you track and consider multiple pesticide applications nearby before approving or disapproving pesticide application permits?

In our last meeting, we offered numerous studies and examples of how recent chlorpyrifos use in Ventura County creates a significant risk of human exposure. We hope you have reviewed this information. Your and Mr. Lauritzen’s response last month was to provide data indicating chlorpyrifos use in the county has declined in the last two years. While this is certainly good news, these data do not tell us anything about the concentrations of chlorpyrifos applications at specific locations. Overall use does not tell us how much chlorpyrifos was used near any daycares, schools, residences, parks, or any sites near vulnerable populations. We requested the Public Land Survey section data, which contain the pounds applied within each square mile of the county, but it was unclear if you or Mr. Lauritzen could provide that. Would you please provide this data?

Also since that meeting, yet another major study was published in the British Medical Journal finding that any chlorpyrifos applied within 1.24 miles while pregnant increases the odds (1.13 and 1.27 with “intellectual disability”) of birthing children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As the scientific evidence of chlorpyrifos health risks, especially the damage to babies’ brains, mounts; as US EPA scientists, the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court, both of California’s US Senators, and the State of Hawaii have called for banning chlorpyrifos; and as you appeared open to continued discussions on chlorpyrifos, we must call on you again to make three reasonable policy changes to help better protect our communities from chlorpyrifos harm:

1. Implement a one-mile buffer zone around schools and daycare facilities specific to chlorpyrifos applications. We noted that Imperial County denies ALL restricted pesticide ground applications within 1⁄2-mile of schools and ALL restricted pesticide aerial applications within 1-mile. We understood your response to be that Ventura County doesn’t need 1-mile chlorpyrifos buffer zones because interim mitigations have been successful and use is down. Again, we do not have evidence from you that there are no vulnerable populations within a mile (let alone 1.24 miles in the above

mentioned study) of chlorpyrifos applications. Multiple applications of chlorpyrifos in conjunction with other regulated materials near these sensitive sites pose a disproportionate cumulative risk to students and staff alike.

2. Give advanced warning of nearby chlorpyrifos applications to schools and daycare facilities. We understood your response to be that a notification system has to be a system that can be applied statewide and has to go through a bureaucratic process. We believe we have misunderstood, however, as Mr. Lauritzen himself implemented a much more complicated notification program in Monterey County for 5-day advanced notification of fumigant applications near schools. Clearly, notification systems do not have to be statewide. If the “process” you mentioned is a “pilot project” like Mr. Lauritzen’s, then we would be in support of a 72-hour advanced notification pilot project to schools and daycares in Ventura County.

3. Require growers to demonstrate they have used less toxic alternative pest management before resorting to chlorpyrifos. Your team suggested that recommending specific pest control measures is outside of your mandated job description. We would like to see a process in which farmers are able to receive objective agroecological recommendations for pest control. Pest management does not require pesticides, and even safer pesticides do not have to be named by brand. Our request is that the growers choose a safer method and show that they have utilized this method before you consider approving a request for chlorpyrifos as an option. That process must be documented, of course, in light of the concerns in the latest UCLA report. We would like documentation of the process for verifying that applicants considered alternative methods to control the pest before resorting to restricted use pesticides. We would like to have a better understanding of valid reasons used for rejecting alternative methods. As a community we feel economic arguments are an insufficient basis for rejection.

If we have misinterpreted your positions above, please let us know. We look forward to your response and to meeting with you soon.Sincerely,

Adam Vega, VC-CAPS Organizer
Ocil Herrejon CAUSE Organizer

Julie D. Martinez Indivisible Conejo

Barbara Leighton Gordon Clint

Ron Whitehurst/ Jan Dietrick Rincon-Vitova Insectaries

Danielle Montoya M.P.H

Mary Haffner

Monica Gray Get Fresh VC

Manuel Bustamante Food & Water Watch

Jose Barrera

Elizabeth Huggins Democratic Moms Of Camarillo

Tomas Rebecchi Food & Water Watch

Jonathan Horton Showing Up for Racial Justice

Sergio Solis VC MEChALucy Cartagena

Tiffany P. Lewis, Dem. Club of Camarillo 1st Vice Chair of VCDP

Elliot Gonzales Live From the Frontlines

Arturo Guido VC-CAPS

Jack Adam Weber

Olga Medina VC-CAPS

Damien Luzzo Live From the Frontlines

Maria Ochoa Child Development Resources

Michelle GouldPatty Pagaling, Transition to Organics

Dayane ZunigaVC CAPS/Creative Minds

Wendy Luzland

Martha Sanchez Martha.Sanchez@cdpr.ca.gov
Yana Garcia Yana.Garcia@calepa.ca.gov
Eric Lauritzen Eric.Lauritzen@cdpr.ca.gov
Ventura County Supervisors
Ventura County Grand Jury
Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin assemblymember.irwin@assembly.ca.gov
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson senator.jackson@sen.ca.gov
Assemblymember Monique Limon assemblymember.limon@assembly.ca.gov
Senator Henry Stern senator.stern@senate.ca.gov

 


  • Letter from Jack Weber that led to start of Petition to STOP Aerial Spring in Ojai, sign the petition HERE

To Whom it Concerns,

April 3, 2019

On the morning of February 22, 2019 I awoke to the sound of helicopter/s. Forty-five minutes later I went outside to see what the commotion was about and saw a helicopter crop-dusting the orchards next door. The helicopter was flying fewer than 100 yards from me. I watched the spray drift in the breeze; it was not a still day. I quickly ducked back inside, mortified and nervous. What were they spraying I wondered? What do I need to do? Where is that spray drifting? Is it safe to be outside? And what about my clothes that were drying on the line? What if my nieces had been visiting; is it safe for them to be outside? And what about my belongings that were also outside and uncovered; would they be covered in whatever they were spraying? Who was there to supervise this spraying to ensure the wind was not too swift, to make sure the pilot did his job impeccably, given the potential danger of his pesticide application?

Too many questions and concerns for an innocent bystander, no?

Once the commotion ended, I called the Ventura Ag department the same day where a gentleman named Scott Wilson at extension #7143 handled my call. He told me that spraying from a helicopter is the same as spraying from the ground. I quickly debunked that argument. What was he trying to hide, I wondered, to make such an illogical argument? I asked to know what was being sprayed. He said he would look into it. Next week I received a call from a new hire from the Ag Department, who ended up passing me to her supervisor, Blanca at extension #7144. She confirmed that there was no one from the County supervising the spraying that morning.

Upon receiving the ingredients of what was sprayed, I noticed Actara on the list, a neonicotinoid pesticide. The active ingredient is thiamethoxam, which is banned in the EU due to its toxic and deadly effect on bees.

(https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/european-union-expands-ban-three-neonicotinoid-pesticides)

I understand the psyllid needs to be managed, and can’t we find a better way, and at the very least give neighbors ample warning and information prior to crop-dusting? It’s a travesty to use this pesticide when bees are in massive decline and climate change is wiping out insects in this 6th mass extinction event. Currently an average 60% of average animal species populations have gone extinct and we are in the midst of an insect apocalypse with up to 40% of insects worldwide threatened with extinction due primarily to industrial farming methods. You can read (about) the studies here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelmarshalleurope/2018/10/30/animal-populations-have-fallen-60-per-cent-and-thats-bad-even-if-they-dont-go-extinct/ – 1613bd4c4cf1

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718313636

It’s unconscionable to conduct spraying like this without notice and with this pesticide. Children are particularly susceptible to pesticides and there are not adequate safeguards to ensure their safety during such sprays, especially when there is some wind, as there was this day, and no third-party supervision.  Nobody should be in the position I was in—wondering and nervous—without any information as to what to do and what was okay or not.

The EPA website about Actara states:

“This pesticide is toxic to wildlife and highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates.”

“This pesticide is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops/plants or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops/plants or weeds while bees are foraging in or adjacent to the treatment area.”

“Do not apply directly to water, or to areas where surface water is present, or to intertidal areas below the mean high water mark. Drift or runoff from treated areas may be hazardous to aquatic organisms in neighboring areas. Do not contaminate water when cleaning equipment or disposing of equipment wash waters.”

Source: (https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/ppls/000100-01250-20131217.pdf):

Early spring flowers and weeds were currently blooming during the application; this means bees were present. More, the stream runs directly below where this spraying took place. Was this spraying in compliance with the precautions of this pesticide? Additionally, it rained five days after the spraying took place and there is abundant run-off down the road to the creek in this area. Additionally, what safeguard is provided to wild animals and birds that are under the spray jets of the helicopters during spraying? None that I can see.

I read the “Right to Farm Ordinance,” which indicates spraying of pesticides is a right in the agricultural area of Ventura County. Yet, a “right to farm” should not include a right to harass and place in jeopardy the wellbeing of unknowing residents. On page one, item 1b, the ordinance states that “agricultural activities frequently become the subject of nuisance complaints due to lack of information about such operations.” Calling the unsafe and irresponsible application of pesticides a “nuisance” is a mischaracterization and dishonest. And it’s not a “nuisance” because of lack of information; it’s a serious concern due to the health effects of these sprayings. The spraying itself is the true nuisance.

The County’s premise regarding such “nuisance complaints” is that “Such actions discourage investments in farm improvements . . . and the economic viability of the County’s agricultural industry as a whole.” What this says is that the County is willing to put the public’s health at risk for profit and favor companies that engage in such operations over the public’s health and wellbeing. I understand the desire for financial gain, but it’s time we start doing so responsibly, not just thinking about ourselves and our billfold.

Additionally, under item 1d it states “An additional purpose of this ordinance is to promote a good-neighbor policy by advising purchasers and users of property adjacent to or near agricultural operations of the inherent potential problems associated with such purchase or residence.” Yet, how does this clause ensure that renters and farmhands are advised? I was never advised of this upon moving onto the property. Regardless, this disclosure is not sufficient “good-neighbor” policy.

At the very least “good neighbor policy” should include a mandatory notifying of neighbors within a broad radius of the proposed spray date, the chemicals proposed to be sprayed, and an information guide to protect one’s person, family, pets, and especially sensitive individuals—regardless of what the pesticide label says.

More, the County needs to be present to supervise the spraying. I practice medicine and have a strong science background; I’ve treated pesticide poisoning. I know the dangers of pesticides, especially to those more vulnerable such as children and the elderly and those with asthma and compromised immune systems. Who is protecting such people during sprayings like this? Nobody. We don’t live in the Middle Ages or even in a Third World country where ignorant behavior like this was and is commonplace. I charge the county with negligence and demand a revision of the statutes to prohibit such irresponsible activities.

I finished my conversation with Blanca posing a hypothetical. I asked her, “I don’t know if you have children (she interjected she did), but how would you feel if you were outside minding your own business early one morning, enjoying the outdoors with your children, and all of a sudden helicopter/s suddenly appear overhead spraying massive amounts of an unknown liquid from nozzles on their wings? Would you be unbothered? Would you be concerned?” She was silent. And then said, “I understand, Mr. Weber.”

Thank you for your consideration, and I’d like to hear from you specifically about: 1) your willingness to get the ordinance changed to make notifying neighbors many days in advance mandatory 2) any violations that might have occurred during this spray given my description of events and label warnings 3) if you agree or are knowledgeable about the science that pesticides endanger the vulnerable population I describe above 4) what options we might work together to implement to comprehensively and mandatorily replace a neonic, bee-killing pesticide to control psyllid and other bugs and 5) the other points mentioned in this letter. Thank you.