Don’t Guess. Test!

Ask the City to Start Testing for These Toxins!

We in the Ojai Valley are all in the beginning stage of getting “bombed” with two neurotoxins, pyrethroid and the neonicotinoid called imidacloprid.

If you want to know more about why and what this means, please read the information which I just submitted to the Ojai Council at the meeting last night, Tuesday, July 14, 2015.


Our only hope to eventually stop the state-mandated spraying of our community is through regular testing of our environment.  If we can document that these poisons are presenting a public health hazard, we will have leverage to force the state to stop.

A local resident spoke very strongly at the podium last night about how “something has changed recently.” He said that within the last week he has noticed:
– His lung condition has mysteriously dramatically worsened, sending him to the ER,
– A substantial drop off in birds at his birdfeeder, and
– Bees actually dropping dead out of the air.

We are asking all residents in the valley to similarly report suspicious changes to either myself, Joanie at or Patty Pagaling at

We are gathering anecdotal evidence by email of how these toxins may be affecting the health of Ojai Valley residents, both human and animal.

What are you noticing? Any increases in:
– Deaths of any kind of insects, especially bees, but  also spiders, butterflies, bats, lizards, toads, salamander and birds.
– Symptoms of pesticidal toxicity for cats and dogs, 
– Lung and respiratory problems, especially for children and the immune-compromised,
– Anything else related to unusual toxicity?


1. If you receive a notice in the mail from the CA Dept. of Food & Ag that the Asian Citrus Psyllid “has been detected in your neighborhood,” then you need to know that you HAVE THE OPTION TO OPT OUT OF BEING SPRAYED, but you must IMMEDIATELY CALL 800-491-1899 and tell them.  If you do not opt out over the phone, CDFA employees will come on your property and spray your trees with pyrethroid and drench the ground underneath with the “deadly to bees” imidacloprid.

2. If you would like information on HOW TO NONTOXICALLY PROTECT THE CITRUS TREES ON YOUR PROPERTY from the disease that the psyllid carries, Citrus Greening Disease, please email  Patty Pagaling and I are arranging to have Ron Whitehurst of Rincon-Vitova Insectaries do a WORKSHOP IN AUGUST for home-owners on this topic.


And What the City of Ojai Can Do
To Help Our Residents
by Joanie
BOD, Ojai Valley Green Coalition;
Ventura Chapter Leader,
Weston Price Foundation

Why are we getting exposed to these chemicals?
The state of California is 100% committed to a plan to protect its $2 billion citrus industry with a protocol of chemical pesticide application, primarily through the use of pyrethroid (described as persisting for months in areas with limited sunlight” on the Beyond Pesticides website) and the “highly toxic to bees” neonicotinoid known as imidacloprid.

This approach is designed to kill the asian citrus psyllid insect that can potentially carry the bacteria which causes citrus greening disease. Citrus greening disease has spread worldwide to countries in Asia and Africa, and in the U.S., since 2005, has destroyed about 70% of the citrus crop in Florida. With it well established just over the border in Mexico, it is generally acknowledged to be inevitably on its way to California.

At the Area Wide Pest Management Program meeting held on Dec 5, 2014 in Oxnard for citrus growers, the state’s featured expert, Dr Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension Entomologist at UC Riverside, said that there was “no evidence” that the area wide spraying would buy more than “a few years” extra growing seasons for citrus producers, and that even so, that those two to three years would be at a very “expensive” cost (growers must pay out-of-pocket to apply the pesticides).

Expensive? Yes, but in far more ways than can be simply measured in dollars, although that is true as well. Just a few of the additional costs associated with the state’s plan:

– The public, including the unborn, babies, growing children, the elderly and the immune-compromised, as well as farmers, farm workers and pets will get exposed to neurotoxins (every pesticide has risk).

– The poison moves out and up the food chain in all directions, killing more than just the asian citrus psyllid insect: bees, bats, butterflies, lizards, toads, salamanders and songbirds, including “swallows, skylarks, yellowhammers, wagtails, starlings and whitethroats... Where the chemical was heavily used, bird populations fell by 3.5% a year…”1 (my note: including the poisoning of pet cats?)

How toxic are these insecticides?
Imadacloprid is a neonicotinoid. Neonicotinoids, well documented as causing Colony Collapse Disorder, have been banned in the European Union since 2013. Bee losses in the United States, where neonicotinoid application is unrestricted, continue to rise dramatically: 42.1% for 2014, 43.5% for 2013. And frighteningly unprecedented and new, bee keepers are now seeing bees dying in high numbers in summer (27.4%: summer 2014) when in the past it has occurred for the most part during the tough winter months. 2

Even the State of CA Questions Using the Neonic It Requires
In a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (public and environmental health versus protection of the state’s citrus industry), even the state of California has concerns about imidacloprid use.

The California Legislature recently passed a bill (AB1789; Williams) specifying a timeline for the reevaluation of neonicotinoid registration. The bill seeks more “scientific studies and review needed to formulate sound policy regarding the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and their possible interaction with the health of honey bees.”3

There have only been two documented cases of trees with the actual disease, both here in the Los Angeles area, including at least two sightings of the asian citrus psyllid in the Ojai Valley.

Once the insect is found, that area becomes targeted for the pesticide application program. At this point, there have been mandated applications in both Meiners Oaks, Oak View and, starting Monday, July 6, a specified area of Ojai, including Canada and Signal Streets neighborhoods.

Keep in mind that while organic growers are permitted to use slightly less poisonous compounds, these “organic” pesticides not only cost three times more than the commercial, more toxic compounds, but also have, nevertheless, been demonstrated to be poisonous enough to kill insects and will wreak havoc with the entire ecosystem in the organic grove as well as persisting long enough to be potentially inhaled.

Why does the state require spraying if there’s no disease affecting our trees yet?
Not all asian citrus psyllid insects necessarily carry the HLB (huanglongbing) bacteria. The state’s goal is to kill any infected insect as soon as it lands before it has a chance to inject any trees.

How long will the state require growers to “bomb” their citrus groves with poisons?
Good question! It’s not clear anyone really knows. Until there’s no threat of citrus greening disease??? If that’s the case, Florida has been struggling with citrus greening for 10 years already.

The pyrethroid and imidacloprid applications potentially expose grove workers, neighbors, next-door schools, birds, fish, pets, and basically everything downwind and downstream to these toxins.

Summerland: Neonic So High, The City Thought the Lab Made a Mistake
The asian citrus psyllid was found in Summerland, a suburb of Santa Barbara.  The county subsequently applied their protocol of pesticides in March, 2014.

The University of California Integrated Pest Management website says that imidacloprid only “persists for several months,” meaning it should be broken down and disappear within 3-4 months after application.

Recent studies on imidacloprid, however, contradict the UC IPM assertion,“Another paper reports that residues of neonicotinoids were found in all the soil samples the researchers took: these chemicals are highly persistent.” 1 (my emphasis)

The results of testing recently done in Santa Barbara also throw doubt on the state’s assertions. As reported in the Santa Barbara Independent, Feb 9, 2015, ‘Neonic’ Poison Found Throughout City, the City of Santa Barbara consistently found imidacloprid in waterways nearly a year after the spraying of Summerland.

Where is all this imidacloprid coming from? If it has been documented as leaking into Santa Barbara waterways, is it also being inhaled by residents in the form of toxin-drenched dust? And why are the levels remaining so high and not dissipating? (please see handout “Neonicotinoid Pesticides: Not Just a Bee Problem” for details)

Don’t guess. Test!
This is a state-mandated pesticide program over which the citrus growers have no choice. But the reality is we, the residents of the Ojai Valley are not only all being exposed to higher than normal levels of these toxins, but we also already have famously bad air quality anyway, in fact, the second poorest in Ventura County, due to having mountains on three sides and very little cross breezes. The only way to have a sane discussion on the topic of our pesticide exposure in the Valley is through actual data collection and measuring levels of our exposure to these chemicals to make rational decisions about public health.

We are asking the Ojai City Council to commit to two actions, both of which are already being done in Santa Barbara:

1. Set aside monies to be used for the regular testing of imidacloprid and pyrethroid in our air, water and earth. Testing is the only we will know exactly our level of local exposure and appropriate actions to take.

2. Recommend that Ojai Valley residents use only organic products and gardening techniques. This will help decrease the amount of these pesticides potentially running off into waterways or flying up into the air in the form of toxin-drenched dust.

Both Patty Pagaling of Transition to Organics and Joanie Blaxter, B.O.D., the Ojai Valley Green Coalition and Ventura Chapter Leader, Weston Price Foundation are willing to volunteer their time to help the council attain these goals by gathering information from appropriate people and agencies in Santa Barbara and elsewhere.

1. Ban Neonicotinoids Now – to Avoid Another Silent Spring by George Monbiot published July 15, 2014
2. Mounting Honeybee Colony Losses, ACRES, USA, July 2015
3. Neonicotinoid Pesticides: Not Just A Bee Problem by Jill Murray, PhD, Research Coordinator, City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division, March 3, 2015
Joanie Blaxter
Founder, Follow Your Gut

Ventura CA Chapter Leader,
Weston A Price Foundation
Ventura WAPF Facebook