Gateway Green Alliance

St. Louis Officials Violate Own Policy on Pesticides

For immediate release: August 6, 2003

City of St. Louis informational material on "Mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus" promises that Vector Control will provide a "speaker for your meeting." But Vector Control representative Larry Kettelhut refused a Green Party invitation to come to its August 6 forum to outline the City's policy on pesticide spraying. Kettelhut says the City will only meet with the Greens in closed discussions.

What: "Pesticides: More Harm than Help?"
When: 7 pm, Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Where: Genesis House, 6018 Delmar (two blocks east of Skinker)

The Green Party has criticized both the City and County spraying policies. The environmental group claims that no research has ever shown that spraying pesticides means that people are less likely to contract West Nile Virus. But they point to a large number of studies showing health effects like asthma and cancer from sprays that the City and County call "harmless." The Greens also say that sprays may reduce the number of mosquitoes in the short run but will eventually increase their numbers as the poisons take their toll on insects that eat mosquitoes. They point to the well-known effect of "pesticide resistance," which means that each generation of mosquitoes is less affected by sprays and more must be used.

Green Party members met privately with City Health officials Larry Kettelhut, Richard Stevson, and Mark Ritter at the beginning of 2003 and invited them to a February program on pesticides. At that meeting, City officials were unable to answer many questions about the safety of pesticides and appeared confused about basic questions such as how much of pesticides actually reach mosquitoes. When they were provided with scientific documentation, they declined to attend the Green Party forum.

"We hoped that after six months, City health officials would have been able to read enough about pesticides to explain their policy to the people it affects," commented Don Fitz, Green Party Spokesperson on Toxins. "Now there are cities across the US and Canada that do not spray poisons for West Nile Virus. They include Washington DC, Fort Worth TX, Bridgeport CT, Vancouver BC, Lindhurst OH, Colombia MO and University City MO. These are just a few of them. If spraying was necessary to protect people from mosquitoes, people in these cities would be dropping from WNV. They are not. St. Louis health officials are spending tax dollars on a program that does not work and makes people sick and they will not even discuss it with City residents."

Green Party Co-coordinator Kim Jayne lives and works in the City of St. Louis. She wants City health officials to "come to our meeting like their literature says they will and explain why they are spraying. It looks like the only groups they will talk with are ones that assure them that there won't be anyone in the audience who disagrees with them. When they are invited by people who know what the dangers of pesticides are, then they won't show up. Maybe the St. Louis Health Department isn't affected by West Nile Virus as much as its afflicted by yellow fever."

Last updated 11 January 2004. Contact: