KQED report on Sudden Oak Death: Fertilizing with minerals could have a “detrimental effect” on sick oaks

11 05 2009

Reporter David Gorn recently wrote on the KQED blog about Sudden Oak Death, relaying claims by UC Berkeley researcher Matteo Garbelotto that the mineral treatments I use are “like giving a glass of orange juice to someone with a terminal disease”. Furthermore, Garbelotto says that fertilizing with minerals could have a “detrimental effect” on sick oaks.

I have two questions:

What is the basis for these claims (no sources are given)? Why did the KQED reporter not do a balanced story?  Why was I not contacted by the reporter about these claims against my work?

I know, that’s three – still if anyone can help provide answers to these questions please leave a comment or email me. Let’s not speculate on motives here, just the facts.

UPDATE (May 27, 2009): David Gorn appears to be responding to my request for sources of the above claims in his KQED science blog comment here. He offers no apology for the glaring lack of balance in his piece. As for the claims I questioned him about, he writes:

“California Agriculture is a peer-reviewed academic journal. The research of Matteo Garbelotto is summarized here: http://calag.ucop.edu/0901JFM/resrchNews01.html”

The paper he seems to be referring to is “Phosphonate controls sudden oak death pathogen for up to 2 years” [California Agriculture, 63 (1): 10-17].

I’ll discuss this paper with regards to claims of inefficacy in a post following this update.

With regards to the claim that my treatments could have a “detrimental effect” on the oaks, no data or evidence is given in this paper. So I’m still left wondering if the “detrimental effect” claims have any scientific merit or basis.

This is not merely an academic matter. It’s time to resolve these differences. We need to take what we know and start helping the trees and soils. Countless oaks are at stake.

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4 responses

2 06 2009
alberi

If anyone is interested in Agrifos for treating sudden oak death please visit treatsuddenoakdeath.com Thank you.

3 06 2009
alberi

In my opinion, there is no down side to performing calcium additions to forest trees. All of the research shows significant improvement in root growth, mycorrhizal growth, phosphorus levels within the trees and overall improvement in canopy and health of trees.
Since potassium phosphite is applied to the bark and is systemically translocated throughout the tree, I fail to see how a calcium addition would adversely affect an agrifos and pentrabark application. In my opinion both applications would be beneficial to tree health.

25 12 2009
Lisa

Lee,

This article isn’t that surprising. Isn’t MONSANTO (or as I call them THE DEVIL) a big corporate sponsor of KQED (who can BARELY be called PUBLIC radio in my opinion.) http://www.grist.org/article/national-public-propaganda/

Which brings me to OPINION. How close does this article come to slandering your good name? Got any attorney friends? I would ask them to take a look at it.

David Gorn might not have come right out and called you a quack but he less than cleverly alluded that with his first paragraph. And by leaving out your credentials and misstating what you actually do say on your website. Oh yeah, he forgot to mention that too.

And he maligned the mineral product that you use, so that company might want to have their lawyers look too.

I am not litigious but when a big multi-million dollar business who claims to be ‘public’ allows shoddy work like this article it is really malevolent. Again, my opinion.

Another example of sensationalistic irresponsible corporate driven ‘journalism.’ Of course, that’s just my opinion.

25 12 2009
Lee Klinger

Thanks for your comment Lisa. I agree the UC scientists and others are in perilous territory with their sleezy comments about my work. But litigation will only take time and resources away from dealing with the real problem, which is the death of the oaks.

I don’t want to play their game. I’d rather raise the bar for oak health. I’ve decided to lead by example and stay focused on improving the standards of oak care. They can say whatever they want but so long as the oaks I’m tending are improving their attacks are of no consequence in the long run.

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