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January 16-23, 2008

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Letters to the Editor


Don't Lament, Document!

DECINZO'S CARTOON of the Santa Cruz Tiger jumping the moat to get at the taunting California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) (DeCinzo, Jan. 9) is great, but unless Santa Cruz does something serious and organized to deal with the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) spray, that animal will turn out to be a whining pussycat. Nu_z's "Sick List" three pages after the cartoon sets up the possibility of turning the LBAM reaction into a seriously dangerous tiger, but it's going to take some organization.

As Nu_z reported it, the problem is that there are 509 complaints of people who say they were affected by the air spraying of the LBAM pheromone (according to the California Alliance to Stop the Spraying [CASS]), whereas CDFA says only 52 were filled out by doctors. Who is right?

In the long history of pesticide exposures since the end of World War II, it took decades before doctors became sufficiently involved to convince authorities that there was a serious problem of exposure by farmworkers and neighbors to pesticides. A lot of this had to do with failure to document exposures and the newness of the symptomology of pesticide effects on human beings.

We are in the same situation with the LBAM now. Leaving aside two not inconsequential issues—first, the argument that pheromones are not strictly speaking pesticides (and those that have countered his argument) and, second, even if it's only 52 physician-reports out of 509 complaints, if we want to develop a tigerish response to CDFA, we're going to have to document the health effects of the spraying if and when it resumes.

Here's what we (and CASS especially) need to do:

1. Alert the population of the sprayed areas that (a) the minute they hear a plane flying low over their homes at least twice, note down the day/date/time (D/D/T) of the event; (b) if they begin to have any reaction, they should note the D/D/T of their reaction in detail, not just one or two words—they should write a detailed description of the onset of the reaction, how it manifested itself, and how long it lasted (D/D/T).

2. CASS or some other civic agency should approach the county's Health Services Agency (HSA) and request HSA to provide physician services for any resident who experiences a reaction to the spray. HSA may say they don't have the resources to do that, in which case CASS should proceed to the Board of Supervisors and ask that HSA be instructed to provide such services without charge to complainants.

3. If this can be put in place, residents experiencing a reaction should present themselves to the county's facility on Emeline Street with their record of the event and request an examination and ask for a copy of the report which they should forward to CASS. Even if such physician services are not provided, the collection of written documents will make CDFA's claims less valid.

If we can build a documented record which shows that reactions are related to the D/D/T of spraying, and if we can get as many of these complaints doctor-examined, CDFA will be facing some genuine tigerish problems.

Bill Friedland, Santa Cruz

It's the New Choice

RICHARD VON BUSACK demonstrates his bizarre understanding of choice in summing up the year in film. To view, as he does, Waitress, Juno and Knocked Up as anti-choice because their pregnant women rejected abortion is to blind yourself to the fact that this rejection is by definition a choice. In interviews, Knocked Up star Seth Rogen and Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody have stated that having their films' characters carry the pregnancy to term were artistic rather than political decisions, and rather sensible ones at that. Maybe they would have worked as the abortion-filled laugh riots von Busack hopes for in 2008, but I doubt it. You can be pro-choice and enjoy these movies because they aren't agitprop. To call for films that balance these ones out with happily aborting women is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

 Brian James, Santa Cruz


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