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Irvine Asks New State Program to Aid in Controlling Medfly

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution asking the state to establish a long-term plan for controlling the Mediterranean fruit fly in the event that the pest returns to Orange County and threatens the city’s agricultural business.

The council also endorsed a resolution urging the California League of Cities’ Orange County division to back its position.

“This is a document that could really lend itself to an improvement in state and local policy,” Mayor Larry Agran said. “To date, most of the action by localities has been futile, as a legal matter, to stop the spraying.”

The resolution, based on a report by a council-appointed task force on malathion spraying, criticizes the state’s plan of declaring a state of emergency after Medflies are spotted. Instead, the state should have an ongoing plan of attack, the resolution states.

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It further accuses state officials of mismanagement and charges that supplies of sterile Medflies, used to breed the pest out of existence, are inadequate for future infestations. The resolution also states that recurring infestations show that government efforts to prevent the spread of Medflies are “wholly inadequate.”

“The state needs to know their program is in shambles and that the people don’t have any confidence in it at all,” said Peter Navarro, a UC Irvine professor on the city’s task force.

To solve problems identified by the task force, the resolution suggests that the state conduct research into safer eradication methods than the use of pesticides. It also asks that the research be conducted by an independent organization.

In addition, the resolution suggests that the state charge fees on affected commercial and home agricultural products that could pay for research and Medfly eradication programs.

Irvine officials also agreed to implement an education program for city residents if Medflies should ever be discovered in Irvine’s extensive agricultural acreage. The program would warn people of the potential harmful effects of malathion, how to protect themselves properly in an area being sprayed and how to prevent the spread of Medflies.

The resolution endorsed Tuesday also asks that the state increase its education and awareness programs in the same way.

Aerial spraying for the Medfly ended May 30. Although portions of Orange County had been sprayed since November, Irvine was spared because no Medflies were found there.


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