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Gypsy Moth Spraying Not as Harmless as Stated

Gypsy Moth Spraying Not as Harmless as Stated
April Roy

As you may have heard, Ely is set to be sprayed for Gypsy Moth this coming summer. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture would have us believe that this spray, (using Foray 48b – an insecticide with the active ingredient Btk) is harmless because it has been used for over 70 years. And others go on about how Foray 48b is certified to be used in organic farming…as if that somehow means there are no health risks.

However, they have failed to mention that there ARE health risks to humans as well as to other beneficial insects and animals in the area.

First I would like to appeal to your common sense. Just because a chemical has been around for 70 years doesn’t mean it is safe. Cigarettes have been smoked for a much longer time than Foray 48b has been around and only in our recent history have cigarettes been proven to cause cancer and STILL companies that manufacture smokes have not been forced to stop, nor do people stop smoking them. There was a time when cigarettes were “harmless”. But these companies are making tons of money and generate tons of tax revenue. Why in the world would our government put a stop to something that is making them money?

And why in the world would our government put a stop to something as “benign” as Foray 48b when these Gypsy Moths threaten the very livelihood of agriculture? Is agriculture more important than human well-being? Is money more important than the accumulated health risks for us and our environment down the road?

The scary thing about this Foray 48b, that they are planning to spray directly over parts of our city, is that there have not been ANY long term studies on the health risks to humans or animals. But there HAVE been short term studies done by independent research groups that show exactly the opposite of what we have been led to believe. This is what I am going to share with you.

The people most at risk for health complications from the Foray 48b aerial spray are the elderly, children, folks with food or other allergies, those with asthma or other lung conditions, anyone with digestive or bowel conditions, those with weakened immune systems and anyone with general sensitivities. BUT – average persons who are in generally good health have been affected too.

Aside from the undeniable health risks, there is also the question of “why”. On the MDA website and in the brochure they hand out it states that the spraying “slows the spread”. In other words only delays the inevitable costs and burdens of established moth migration. They can’t assure us that ANY amount of this spraying will kill all the caterpillars. If this treatment is only delaying and not preventing, what is the point spraying? Won’t the cost of the treatment be an added tax burden on the Ely/Minnesota residents on top of the inevitable burden of the moths themselves in the long run? And if this first year spray does nothing to curb the Gypsy Moth spread here, will we have to do it again next year…and the year after and for how many years? And for how many years will we all be subjected to these chemicals?

The MDA and other agencies like it, would have us believe that the Foray 48b dissipates in a matter of 30 minutes and certainly in a matter of days. This is either complete ignorance on their part or a lie because there are studies that confirm viable Btk spores have been found airborne in and near a spray zone for up to a year. That means we could be breathing this stuff till 2017 in Ely.
Not only that, but viable Btk spores have also been found 24 hours post spray INSIDE sealed buildings. That means inside houses and stores and schools and even the hospital.

There is also a concern about these caterpillars/moths growing resistant (this is very common with any pesticide) to the Foray 48b which indicates the use of more and more and more, year after year. And of course costs more money, a burden the tax payers will have to bare.

Maybe nothing will happen if they spray. Maybe everyone will be just fine…but maybe not. What if you or I are one of the select few that DO have adverse symptoms? Personally, I am concerned for people like myself and my son who DO have anaphylactic food allergies and other sensitivities that have made us prone to symptoms. What about you? Do you know FOR SURE that this won’t affect you? And what happens if even just one of us suffers from symptoms after the spray and we need to be treated medically? Who is going to take responsibility for us? Is the city going to pay for our medical treatment? Will the State? Will the MDA?

This spray is something I do not consent to because I am more concerned for mine and others health rather than the business of agriculture. If something happens on MY property that affects MY health when I distinctly object, that is a violation of my rights as a citizen of this state. So WHO will take responsibility for it if it happens.

Here is information about the interactions with humans as documented by other sources:

– In 1991 French scientists called for a ban on Bt containing pesticides after finding that inhaled spores cause lung inflammation.
– Direct quote from the Btk Safety Review – “Though much has been written regarding the active ingredient Btk, little is known about the short-term, long-term or synergistic effects of these potentially hazardous components of the Foray 48B in humans or in the environment.” End quote.
– Permits in Canada were cancelled by the Environmental Appeal Board after serious health concerns arose, they said there was too great a risk posed to human health.
– Asthma rates doubled in New Zealand between 2002 – 2004 for boys ages 0-4 in the spray area. Rates increased for girls ages 0-4 at 50% and ages 5-14 at 80%. Monthly hospitalizations rates among exposed group gradually increased during the duration of the spraying.
– According to Washington State Department of Health in 2002, adverse effects were reported after a spray in 59 people. Cough, wheezing, headache, trouble breathing, sore throat, nasal congestion, irritated eyes, skin rashes, upper respiratory symptoms, flu-like or viral symptoms, worsening of asthma and allergic bronchitis were among the reports.
– It is possible but unknown whether Foray 48B is a carcinogen because no long term studies have been done.
– It is possible but unknown whether Foray 48B affects reproductive health, no long term studies have been done, however it has been known to produce fetotoxicity in animals.
– During the Washington Gypsy Moth spray program, over 250 people reported health problems, 6 were treated in the emergency room for severe lung distress.
– During one Vancouver spray program, over 200 people reported health problems, mostly flu like or allergy like symptoms.
– While there are product inspections before a spray, it is possible for Btk products to be contaminated with other bacteria, thus compounding and worsening any possible affects if exposed.
– Other symptoms reported from other areas are: bacterial gastroenteritis, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, infection of the eye and corneal ulcers, temporary but severe eye damage, neurological symptoms, musculoskeletal and endocrine symptoms, sleep problems, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, diarrhea, stomach discomfort and gas.

Some information about the interactions with animals and insects:

– Following the 1993 and 94 aerial spraying of Foray 48B over urban areas in British Columbia, reports came back on a variety of effects on a number of bird species including: bird feces turning black, bird feces with pieces of digestive tract tissue, dead fledgling birds, general lower bird populations , reduced wild bird song, dead domestic chickens, chickens with diarrhea.
– In that same two year span after spraying in Canada, reports came in as follows: No honey bees from first spray to end of July, reduction in wasp population, ladybird population drastically depleted, wood bugs became speckled with unusual yellowish blotches, drastically reduced butterfly and skipper populations, population overgrowth of other caterpillar species outside the spray area, including tent caterpillars (otherwise known as army worms), mutated more aggressive tent caterpillars observed following year, first year spray did not eradicate gypsy moth population.
– Numerous reports have been filed of adverse effects on aphid eating flies, ground beetles, certain mites and other beneficial insects.
– Following the 1993 and 94 year of spraying, certain fish developed tumors and dead fish were found in susceptible populace.

Information about Foray 48B and Btk, the active ingredient in Foray 48B:

– Viable spores are known to exist for up to one year following application.
– Insect resistance to Bt products have been well documented.
– Water treatment does NOT destroy Btk spores and may persist in water supply for up to 200 days and in the water sediment for 270 days after application.
– Btk spores can travel between 1- 12 miles outside the spray zone depending on weather.
– 800 strains of naturally occurring Bt spores may be found in the soil, but aerial spraying of such spores and other chemicals NEVER happens naturally. Since there are no long term studies, we have no idea what kind of impact this kind of thing actually does to people or to the land and other life forms that live on it.
– Because the 87% of supposedly inert ingredients in the Foray 48B is a secret, no one knows exactly what is in it except that it contains carbohydrates, preservatives, food additives, fermentation growth materials and anti-evaporants. Some of which are approved for use in food, but none of them for inhalation. And NONE of these chemicals have been tested for synergistic effects.
– No one knows if they have sensitivity to this product until they are exposed. And even persons who were exposed once with no symptoms may become sensitive to it over time and develop symptoms the next time they are exposed.
– Because Btk is used on farms that grow produce, if a person were to develop a sensitivity to it because of this spray, the next time they purchase produce that has been sprayed with Btk products it is possible for them to have a reaction to that produce and would never understand the correlation unless they were to hear and understand this information. It is entirely possible that there are far more health concerns relating to the Foray 48b because people and doctors do not draw the link between the spray and their health.

Please, if you are in any way concerned about the spraying set to be done this summer, talk to our mayor or the city council. And I urge you to look into this yourself; don’t just take my word for it. I have provided just a FEW of the links that have compiled information about the foray 48b, take a look. Also, attend the public meeting on February 22 at 5:00 at city hall where you can ask questions.

A short study published by PubMed – Lists that symptoms increases SIGNIFICANTLY following a spray
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12658313

Foray 48B Product label, Directions and Information:http://forestry.valentbiosciences.com/docs/forestry-resources-library/foray-48b-label—usa

Bacillus thuringiensis – Safety Review – This link provides resource listings at the end of the document.
http://www.lbamspray.com/Reports/BacillusthuringiensisSafetyReview031208.pdf

Journal Of Pesticide Reform – This link provides even more extensive resource listing at the end of the documentation.
http://eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/JPR/JPR_22.htm