Fri – 1/18: Risky business – antibiotics as pesticides on food crops. Comments due tomorrow (Sat. 1/19)!

Action: Stop our race to a dangerous past. Write a comment here to stop the use of antibiotics as pesticides.

Citrus growers, from backyards to huge orchards, are fighting citrus greening disease, aka “yellow dragon disease“. The disease, which is caused by a pathogen spread by insects, causes discoloration and withering of fruit, making them inedible, and the eventual death of the affected tree. It first reached Florida in 2005 and it now threatens citrus crops across the nation (including Ventura County!), as well as in 33 other countries. There is no known cure yet, but there is one treatment that may be worse for us than the lack of our morning orange juice…treatment with antibiotics that are vital to our health.

The deadline is this  tomorrow – Saturday January 19th by 11:59 EST! Go here to comment.

Here’s the regulation site.  They currently have 33 comments! Seriously. 33.

Example comment (mix is up with your own words): Please do not permit the use of antibiotics, including streptomycin, as a pesticide in citrus production. Not only does this practice create resistant bacteria that are already causing longer-lasting and sometimes incurable infections, higher medical expenses, and the need for more costly or hazardous medications, but research has revealed that agrichemicals and antibiotics used in combination increase the evolution of antibiotic resistance. In fact, bacteria may develop antibiotic resistance up to 100,000 times faster when they’re exposed to certain herbicides in the environment. 

Antibiotic resistance represents a public health emergency and an existential threat to modern civilization. Scientists have already found bacteria which can fight off every antibiotic we have. Every year, at least two million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and over 23,000 people die. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are racing back to the past, where one could die from a paper cut, an STI, any kind of surgery or from childbirth. Please consider the real cost to the American people and prohibit the use of streptomycin in citrus production. Thank you.”

More background here.

Here’s the actual request from the regulations site:

part of citrus doc

This is not our first rodeo: This is not the first time agriculture corporations have asked the EPA to use antibiotics  as pesticides on food crops, particularly citrus trees. The agency had already approved Oxytetracline use on citrus crops in 2018 without fully accessing risks to human health or endangered species, and against researchers cautions against diluting the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat medical conditions.

In 2016, the EPA approved an emergency use of up to 1.6 million pounds of oxytetracycline and streptomycin on citrus trees in Florida and there were additional emergency approvals after that, in 2017 for Florida and in 2018 for Florida and California.


Do you have these critters? Go here.

Science says “Just say no”:For more than 10 years the World Health Organization has recognized these drugs as being “highly important” or “critically important” to human medicine and have called on farmers and the food industry to stop using them in healthy animals to promote growth. Antibiotic use will affect bees, which pollinate citrus flowers, as well as small mammals like rabbits. In the environment, antibiotics can change the chemistry of soil and water, knocking ecosystems out of balance. Both the European Union and Brazil have already banned the use of oxytetracycline and streptomycin as a pesticide.

Whatever doesn’t kill them, makes them stronger: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms each year, leading to an estimated 23,000 deaths. One study estimated that up to 50 percent of pathogens that cause surgical site infections, and 25 percent of those that cause infections following chemotherapy, are already resistant to common antibiotics. If antibiotic effectiveness drops by even another 10 percent, it could result in 40,000 more infections and 2,100 additional deaths following surgery and chemotherapy each year. And the resistance problem may be growing faster than scientists previously predicted. Research from University of Canterbury revealed that agrichemicals and antibiotics used in combination increase the evolution of antibiotic resistance. In fact, bacteria may develop antibiotic resistance up to 100,000 times faster when they’re exposed to certain herbicides in the environment. The results suggest that herbicides enhance the ability of antibiotics to become antibiotic resistance and that such resistance may be acquired at rates much faster than those predicted in laboratory conditions. Previously, research found that commonly used herbicides promote antibiotic resistance by priming pathogens to more readily become resistant to antibiotics.

Unfortunately, we can’t evolve as fast as pathogens: This means, unless science pulls another rabbit out of it’s science-hat, people are going to start dying of dumb things that were fatal in the days before antibiotics… Paper cuts or blisters. STI’s. UTI’s. Any surgery. An infected tooth. Tuberculosis. Childbirth will become exponentially riskier

A syphilis sufferer before the days of antibiotic treatment

Awesome! So write. Let’s stop this one.


Why are your oranges covered with antibiotics? (Mercola)

Antibiotic use on oranges gets Trump Administration’s approval (CBD)

Should citrus farmers use antibiotics to combat greening disease? (national geographic)

Did you know antibiotics are being used in citrus? Here are the fact. (FresnoBee)


One thought on “Fri – 1/18: Risky business – antibiotics as pesticides on food crops. Comments due tomorrow (Sat. 1/19)!

  1. This is a dangerous practice as we have seen throughout history .We know without a shadow of a doubt thanks to scientific research the overuse of antibiotics whether it be in medical practice ,agriculture or as a deterrent to of insects you strengthen the subject target by giving it the ability to adapt and become immune. More often than not what becomes immune to any particular type of anti biotic ends up being harder and harder to control in the future with severe consequences. “Superbugs” i.e. viral infections become deadly strains with little to no successful treatments because they have managed to adapt and thrive because of misuse or over prescribed anti biotics because its usually a faster and more inexpensive option to treat even the most benign illnesses .


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