Rethinking Pesticides

I remain uncertain about my beliefs on pesticides and whether spraying in this case is appropriate. Last week I shared my concerns about the democratic process in responding to public needs. I remain very concerned about that lack of process here and I continue to urge the City Council to use all elements within its disposal to attempt to work to correct the basic problem of an elected body accountable to no one having control over democratically elected bodies.

But I grow concerned about a secondary problem. We’ve been told that these chemicals in the amounts we will be exposed to are safe.

“Councilman Stephen Souza again expressed concern about notifying residents. But he said that his major concern had actually been ground spraying, adding he felt pest control and other businesses use more concentrated insecticides. “I believe the threat is far less than what we face on an everyday basis,” he said.”

“Mayor Sue Greenwald said she’d spoken to a variety of experts about the safety and merits of spraying, but came away uncertain.”

Who is telling us that the chemicals are safe? Well the vast majority of experts consulted by the City Council come from the UC Davis Pest Management and Entomology programs. This is a case of following the money. The vast majority of professors rely on Chemical manufacturing companies such as Dow and Monsanto to fund their research and provide them grants. These companies are often suppliers and manufacturers of the chemicals used in the pesticides.

Follow the money. Following the money trail here gives me pause. Let me be clear: the science could still be accurate regardless of the flow of money. But it’s kind of like the Cigarette companies telling us that smoking doesn’t kill us. It should be greeted with a healthy degree of skepticism. The history of the use of pesticides and chemicals is not a good one. Long term studies have often found that things we used in high quantities on a regular basis were killing us. They have not earned the benefit of the doubt on this.

Again–the amount of chemicals in these pesticides and the amount of pesticides applied to the environment is possibly sufficiently small to not pose a health problem. But when it’s the chemical companies telling us that, I become concerned about the veracity of their claims. Once again, I do not feel that the City Council has performed due diligence in their role as public guardians. The process here concerns me. The lack of an independent and transparent review process concerns me. We need better answers in the future so that we can make informed decisions and we do not fall prey to scare tactics on either side.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting


  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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