California Activists Stop Aerial Spraying

The Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) spray program is halted after mass mobilization and organization by California residents.

Photo by ColorSync.
Watson, Claire

Imagine this: planes fly overhead in the middle of the night and spray poison on homes, cars, playgrounds, parks, streams, and directly onto people.  Sound unlikely? Well it’s not. It was California’s reality from 2007-2008...that is, until residents rallied and eventually brought the spraying to a halt.

In 2007, a “state of emergency” was declared in California because the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) was supposedly doing significant damage to agricultural crops. The state’s solution to the problem was to bypass everyone’s rights, and spray the whole state for up to 10 years with a pesticide that would eventually eradicate the moth. Soon enough, planes were flying over residential areas in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, blanketing communities with this dangerous spray.

California residents were getting sick, dead birds were washing ashore. So they got together and formed action committees to fight the spraying. They revealed that:

  • The apple moth posed no serious threat to agriculture aside from economic sanctions.

  •  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received significant campaign contributions from people associated with Suterra Inc., the pesticide manufacturing company that produced the chemicals in the spray. Stewart and Lynda Resnick, co-chairs of Roll International (the holding company of Suterra Inc.), made a $144,600 donation to Schwarzenegger’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
  • The spray was harmful to human health, the environment, and other life.

Ultimately, the aerial spraying program was abandoned and in May of 2009, the EPA banned the two controversial sprays associated with LBAM – a major victory for California residents and activists.


The Berkeley Daily Planet. Plaintiffs Win Pesticide Fight; Feds Withdraw LBAM Sprays by Richard Brenneman. May 15, 2009.