In the summer of 1981, the Mediterranean fruit fly spread through California’s Santa Clara Valley, infesting backyard fruit trees and threatening the state’s $14 billion agricultural industry.

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The Fly That Quarantined California and Pitted Environmentalists Against Farmers

Producer: Joshua Fisher

But it would take more than conventional tools to defeat this bug. A massive ground eradication program failed to stop the Medfly, and a plan to spray pesticides from the air sparked angry protests and led Governor Jerry Brown into a dramatic showdown with the Reagan administration.

Today, California continues to fight the Medfly. But the tactics have changed – and so have the politics.


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