DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – There are concerns about the ground spraying being done for West Nile virus in Dallas County.
Oak Cliff resident Steve Smith grows organic vegetables that he sells to restaurants and individuals. “Pretty delicious, but it’s gonna have to go,” he said looking at his produce.
This summer Smith is tearing up all of his crops. The job isn’t something he’s enjoying. “It was disheartening, depressing.”
Smith is worried the mosquito spray used in Dallas County may have tainted his plants. If that is the case, it’s made it impossible for him to guarantee his products are pesticide-free. “We don’t know the exact locations and amounts of spraying that has occurred.”
Smith’s business, Eat The Yard, was one of many that signed a letter calling for local leaders to prioritize larvicide, the product that kills mosquitoes at an immature stage of life.
Dallas City Council Members and Dallas County Commissioners received the letter Wednesday. Forty-eight local organizations or individuals signed it. The group says they’re not opposed to the use of pesticides, just the type Dallas County is using.
The concern is over bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) larvicide in particular. Bti is used in dunks handed out by the County to kill mosquito larva in standing water. The product is considered safer and more natural than pesticides used in ground and aerial spraying to target adult mosquitoes.
At the restaurant Central 214, executive chef Graham Dodds also signed the letter. He said he tries to buy local ingredients, but wonders how much has been compromised. “It’s really important to me that we keep the food organic,” he said.
Dodds also blames last year’s spraying for killing most of his honeybees. “You know when it’s pesticide death, because they’re [bees] all clustered together.”
John Watts, an entomologist at Texas Discovery Gardens in Fair Park, said he’s concerned about the product drifting. “That’s not very specific to mosquitoes. It would kill basically any kind of insect it comes in touch with.”
Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson said while he agrees larvicide is a great option; he says it cannot be the only one. “Those are components that have to be involved in an integrated approach. To say you can only do one without the other is kind of unrealistic.”
With 20 lives lost to West Nile in Dallas County last year, Thompson isn’t sure it’s time to give up any tool.
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