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    Commentary: I want to caution against opposition to all chemical methods

     Albany resident Doug Johnson wrote a commentary on Albany’s opposition to a state pesticide spray program:

    “I respect the extensive work put into the resolution to stop the LBAM eradication program, as well as the desire to protect the health of our community. I also believe agencies should take more steps to engage public review for proposed programs like this one.

    However, as an environmental professional involved in invasive plant management, I also want to caution against opposition to all chemical methods. Counterintuitive as it may be, in some circumstances, such methods can have the lowest nontarget ecological impact.

    We also need to be careful that we understand the full impacts of each pest. LBAM may be a threat to agriculture, but it may also be a threat to native ecosystems. Though it can be tempting to fit a pest like LBAM into the storyline of “industrial agriculture defending its financial interests at the expense of public health,” this may not be the whole story.

    Finally, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is defined as “a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.” There is no filter that says, “chemical methods are inherently bad,” even if environmentalists may be inherently skeptical. Many natural resource managers employ herbicides as part of their IPM toolbox when controlling invasive plants, and the environment is better off because of it.

    When working to control a pest, there should be full scientific evaluation of risks and benefits of all treatment strategies. Invasive species will continue to have a major impact on our state, and we will be called upon to make decisions on the best ways to prevent—and when necessary—to treat them.  Informed public involvement is essential to engage with the complexities of such issues.”

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