Fight over disclosure of pesticide ingredients heats up in California
In California, a battle is raging over a pesticide that critics say is sickening hundreds of residents as it’s being sprayed over large swaths of Monterey County to battle a crop-destroying moth. Residents who became ill after the first application of the pesticide want to know what’s in it that could cause asthma-like symptoms, rashes, stomach pains, and burning eyes. But regulators have kept quiet about what’s in the mix — dubbed CheckMate by its manufacturer — due to laws protecting pesticide ingredients as trade secrets. A district judge ordered a temporary halt to the spraying last week due to concern for public health, and the judge may eventually break new legal ground in the U.S. by ruling whether trade secrets trump the public’s right to know. Meanwhile, agricultural interests are sweating; officials have said that if the invasive moth reigns unchecked, it could damage some 250 species of plants and destroy $2.6 billion worth of crops.