A report released by a technical working group of 10 scientists backs up California's goal to eradicate the light brown apple moth.

Moth infestations in California's Central Coast and San Francisco Bay Area counties have led to restrictions on moving produce, nursery crops and garden plants.

The technical working group's report debunks comments made in the earlier released Harder/Rosendale report: Integrated Pest Management Practices for the Light Brown Apple Moth in New Zealand: Implications for California.

Group members say the Harder/Rosendale report offers a narrow perspective and is scientifically unjustified  in its recommendation that California should abandon the light brown apple moth eradication program. 

Among the findings:

♦ Until recently, the light brown apple moth was the plant pest of greatest impact in New Zealand.

♦ Harder/Rosendale's "account of the LBAM situation in New Zealand fails to recognize the natural resistance of New Zealand's native plants and bio-control program developments that have just recently resulted in the reduction of this pest's impact on the country's agricultural sector."

♦ Until the biological control organisms became established, producers relied heavily on insecticides as the primary means of controlling the pest.

♦ "The issue is not just with LBAM becoming established along California's central coast, it also involves its potential establishment in other parts of California, and in other States.

The working group's full response can be viewed at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/lbam. Members include scientists from Australia, New Zealand, California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hawaii. It has a host range of more than 2,000 plant species, including 250 crops. Among those are citrus, grapes and deciduous fruit.

A USDA study indicates that if California becomes generally infested, the moth could cause billions of dollars in damage annually.In addition, it could hinder export opportunities and interstate commerce due to quarantine restrictions.

As of March 21, the state had trapped 18,111 moths in 13 California counties.

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