Spraying Happening Now!

Ojai Valley Residents ~ Pesticide Spraying Happening Now!

April , 2016


It may be Ojai pixie tangerine month, but the Ojai-grown citrus industry is in a quiet, but deadly fight for its life. Right alongside that crisis is another concerning the health of our Valley residents. What is this threat?

To be accurate there are two, separate threats.

The first threat is tiny bug, the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which can carry a bacteria causing a disease called citrus greening (also known as HLB). Over the course of the past decade, HLB has destroyed about 75% of the citrus trees in Florida. Citrus growers in California, and our Valley, are terrified of getting this deadly disease in their groves.

And the second threat? The state-recommended poisons being sprayed in our Valley to kill the insect that can carry the disease. This is being done through a program of grove management called Area Wide Management, facilitated by two private, nonprofits: the Farm Bureau and the ACP-HLB Task Force. Section by section, designated areas of Ventura county are being systematically targeted for massive insecticide applications. While this management program is VOLUNTARY, in fact, all growers are forced to participate in it because packinghouses will not pick or pack fruit until “the grower has provided evidence that treatment of that grove has been completed.”

(ref: Ventura County ACP-HLB Task Force: AWM treatment program expands to entire county”)

A local grower refers to those forced pesticide applications as Area Wide ‘Carpet Bombing’” and the unified complicity of the packinghouses as “extortion.” Make no mistake, the insecticides which kill the Asian Citrus Psyllid poison ALL insects, not just this bug, and affect the entire Ojai Valley, not simply the groves where they are applied. These pesticides destroy our local ecosystems, poison our waterways, fish and aquaculture with runoff, and pollute our air with toxin-drenched dust from the treated earth beneath citrus trees.

Having mountains on three sides puts the Ojai Valley at particular risk by blocking cross breezes that might otherwise permanently carry pesticides and poison-soaked dust away from our homes. Ojai is on record as having the second poorest air quality in Ventura county. What is sprayed in Ojai, stays in Ojai!

What Ojai Valley citrus growers and residents agree on

  1. The challenge presented by citrus greening disease is only one of a series of similar, inevitable agricultural threats on the horizon. Global exchange and travel are not going to stop. This accelerated rate of human movement around the world inevitably introduces new pests, like the Asian Citrus Psyllid, to lands where there are no natural predators.
  2. Most importantly, it is well established that all insects eventually develop pesticide resistance, all the while these neurotoxins degrade our personal and environmental health. Ojai Valley residents want our local citrus industry to thrive, but without risk to themselves, their children, their pets, livestock, bees, and garden health.

What are the primary chemicals being applied in our Valley as you read this?

  • Imidacloprid, a “highly toxic to bees” neonicotinoid that drenches the ground underneath citrus trees.
  • Pyrethroid, a synthetic neurotoxin which is sprayed on the leaves of the trees.


PYRETHROIDS:   “One study tested urine samples from 779 Canadian children, aged six to 11... 97 percent … had pyrethroid breakdown products… associated with twice the risk of a child scoring high for behavioral problems, such as inattention and hyperactivity… (T)oddlers… exposed to pyrethroids while in utero had lower development scores compared to unexposed children. According to a 2006 EPA review, …even low levels of some of these compounds have an adverse effect on:

  • Immune function
  • Nervous system development
  • Behavioral system development
  • Thyroid
  • Liver
  • Reproductive glands

“Some pyrethroids act as endocrine disruptors by mimicking estrogen… (and promote) the growth of estrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer.”   (emphasis mine, ref: Bad News About Pesticides by Dr. Mercola)

IMIDACLOPRID: “Imidacloprid is correlated with DNA damage; miscarriages… and neurological and thyroid problems (Cox 2001)… women of childbearing age have… risks… in their tissues for an indeterminate time, possibly forever, though sampling of breast milk has shown that some of these toxins are expelled when breastfeeding, again threatening the life of the child...

“U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics: every year for the past five years, approximately 30% of all colonies have been lost… Indeed, once keystone species like bees are lost, ecological collapse can follow relatively quickly.”

(emphasis mine, ref: https://poisoningourchildren.wordpress.com/tag/imidacloprid/; also Chemical WATCH Factsheet on Imidacloprid: https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/Imidacloprid.pdf)

Is California following its own guidelines of “minimizing risks to people and the environment?”

Nothing is being done to monitor these poisons in our bodies. The state waits for individual complaints to be registered at a poison control center when most people do not realize that their symptoms are the result of pesticide exposure.


You have the right to opt out of any spraying at your home, but…

YOU MUST CALL 800-491-1899 and say you want to

PERMANENTLY OPT OUT of any Asian Citrus Psyllid spraying at your address,

now and at any time in the future.


Other Tips to protect your family and pets

  1. Two local experts discuss how to nontoxically protect the citrus on your property, go to transition-to-organics.org and click on FOR CITRUS GROWERS.
  2. Educate yourself thoroughly about the symptoms of insecticide poisoning. They are subtle and cumulative.
  3. Stay away from citrus groves. Voluntary spraying by the owner can occur any time. Best not to be walking in the grove when that happens.
  4. If possible, also keep your pets away from citrus groves. If you own outdoor cats, watch them carefully for signs of neurotoxicity, as many of the animals that make their homes in the groves (birds, rats, etc.) will likely be poisoned.
  5. Avoid the use of pyrethroid based insecticides for animals, like flea powder for dogs or fly ointment for horses (ref: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/pyrethrin/)


Test! Don’t Guess!!

Transition to Organics believes the only way to have reasonable public discourse about this issue is to have hard data. For that reason, we want:

  1. Residents of the Ojai Valley to have access to easy, affordable tests measuring the presence of these pesticides in our bodies.
  2. To guarantee the safety of our environment and health of our ecosystems, we would like the water and soil testing that is currently being done by the state expanded considerably, including adding tests for air quality.


What You Can Do Right Now

  • We need volunteers to distribute flyers, monitor the health of residents, help us acquire funds to cover testing, collect soil and water samples, and more. Please offer your help!
  • Contact Patty Pagaling, founder of Transition to Organics, at transitiontoorganics@gmail.com
  • For more information on health effects, contact:                                                                  Joanie Blaxter, Health Coach, Speaker & AuthorFollow Your Gut                                             Ventura Area Chapter Leader Weston A Price Foundation                                                           e-mail: joanieblaxter@gmail.com