In 1989, a sudden invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata,

1989 California medfly attack

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2022-06-21 23:00:05

In 1989, a sudden invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata, "medflies") appeared in California and began devastating crops. Scientists were puzzled and said that the sudden appearance of the insects "defies logic", and some speculated "biological terrorists" were responsible.[1] Analysis suggested that an outside hand played a role in the dense infestation.[2][3][citation needed ]

A person or group calling itself "The Breeders" took responsibility for the bioterrorist attack,[4] as financial retaliation for the environmental damage caused by the state's Malathion aerial spraying; the group's members were never identified.[citation needed ] Subsequently, three months after "The Breeders" announced the medfly release, the state ended its decade-long Malathion program and sought alternate ways to handle destructive insects.[4]

Largely because of its sunny Mediterranean climate and widespread irrigation, California is the world's fifth largest supplier of food and agriculture commodities.[5] According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, "California agriculture is nearly a $36.6 billion dollar industry that generates $100 billion in related economic activity."[6] The state’s agricultural sales first exceeded $30 billion in 2004,[7] Since 1975, California had seen small annual infestations of the medfly, typically ascribing their appearance to the casual shipping of fruit, and visits, between relatives and friends in California and Hawaii.[8]

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