90 Protest Malathion Spraying as Scientists Meet on New Strategies

About 90 people protested near downtown Los Angeles Tuesday against government efforts to kill the Mediterranean fruit fly with aerial spraying as top scientists convened a three-day meeting in El Monte to revamp the eradication program.

Agricultural officials also reported the discovery of a male Medfly in the city of Bell, three miles outside the boundary of a 25-square-mile sector encompassing Downey and South Gate, that is to be sprayed with malathion Thursday night. No spraying has been ordered for the new area.

The new fly discovery came as officials were preparing for three consecutive nights of spraying to combat the worst Medfly infestation in Southern California history. On Tuesday, helicopters prepared to douse a 16-mile section of Los Angeles that includes Eagle Rock, Elysian Park and Mt. Washington. Today, spraying is planned in Monrovia.

A group of residents and environmentalists held a noontime rally at Commonwealth Avenue and 6th Street, lashing out against the use of pesticides rather than relying on biological controls, such as the release of sterile flies, to eradicate the pest.

Meanwhile, members of the state's top scientific advisory board were briefed privately on technical details of the eradication program by government agricultural officials in El Monte, and they also toured several of the Medfly quarantine zones. The scientists are grappling with new strategies on how to halt the spread of the crop-destroying pest and will announce their recommendations Thursday.

Los Angeles County will conduct aerial spraying of malathion tonight.

Area: 9 square miles encompassing parts of Monrovia, Arcadia, Temple City and El Monte.

Time: 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Precautions: Stay indoors; keep animals indoors; wash animal dishes and toys left outside; cover cars; keep doors and windows closed.

Information: Toll-free numbers for the Agricultural Commissioner: (800) 356-2894; (800) 225-1346.

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