At its May 2013 meeting, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) adopted changes to its rules that allow for widespread pesticide spraying to control the threat of arboviral diseases in Maine. Arboviral diseases are those spread by arthropods. This change to BPC rules allows the unauthorized spraying of pesticides to private property when the Maine Center for Disease Control deems it necessary to control arboviral diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
The new rules offer citizens the option to “opt out” of pesticide spraying when the method of spraying is ground-based. The board plans to adopt a policy about who can opt out of aerial spraying, but the policy is not expected to include protections for citizens to prevent their houses and yards from being sprayed.
MOFGA has been following these rules at the board level as they have unfolded over the past year. We, along with a large number of citizens, communicated to the BPC that spraying is not the answer. We’ll continue to engage with the board to look for alternatives and to protect Maine from widespread spray programs.
Also at its May meeting, the BPC approved a Special Local Need 24(c) registration for Gowan Malathion 8 Flowable, an organophosphate insecticide, on blueberries and cane berries to control spotted wing drosophila – a new pest in Maine that can devastate berry crops. This request will allow non-organic growers to spray malathion four times per year rather than the three times previously allowed.
The board reached a consent agreement with TruGreen Lawncare of Westbrook for an unauthorized pesticide application to a property in Westbrook. In this case the caller had been a customer of TruGreen but canceled its services two years before this application. TruGreen bought another company in the area and incorrectly believed this resident was a customer of that company. TruGreen then applied Merit 0.2 Plus Fertilizer to the caller’s lawn, which triggered notification to the board.
Merit 0.2 Plus Fertilizer contains not just fertilizer (including 24 percent nitrogen) but also imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide. Neonicotinoid insecticides are systemic – i.e., they are taken up by and travel throughout the plant. They may be implicated in colony collapse disorder of honeybees.
Given prior violations by TruGreen, the board levied a $2,000 fine.
– Katy Green