This article highlights a surprising revelation that even your organic apples and pears may contain two different antibiotic drugs that the USDA has quietly allowed to be used.
You may not be aware of it, but every time you bite into that crisp, organic apple or succulent, organic pear, you could be exposing yourself to two different antibiotic drugs that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has quietly allowed to be used on these two fruits since the organic program’s inception back in the 1990s. And unless the health-conscious community makes its collective voice heard on this important issue, the deceptive practice will continue to play a role in the growing antibiotic-resistance epidemic that is sweeping modern society.
It has been a problem since the early days of the National Organic Program (NOP) — a destructive bacterial disease known as fire blight tends to harm many apple and pear varieties, making their trees appear as though they have been burned by fire. If left to run its natural course without effective intervention, fire blight can kill blossoms, shoots, limbs, and sometimes entire trees, making it difficult to effectively grow certain fruits for commercial distribution.
Originally, the argument held that there was no other effective way to cultivate apples and pears, either conventional or organic, without the use of both streptomycin and tetracycline, two antibiotics that are also widely used in the treatment of human pathogens. But since it has become clear that antibiotic-overuse is responsible for causing widespread resistance, and the fact that antibiotic use is inconsistent with the organic philosophy, NOSB decided in 2011 to require that both streptomycin and tetracycline be phased out of use by October 14, 2014.
Organic apples and pears grown in the U.S. for the European Union (EU) market are already effectively grown without the use of either streptomycin and tetracycline — EU provisions do not allow the use of any antibiotics in agriculture — which means there is no valid reason why these same fruits cannot be grown without the two antibiotics for the American market as well. But heavy influence from some large organic apple and pear growers threatens to postpone NOSB’s phase-out requirements until 2016, which threatens both the viability of antibiotics and the safety of the public.
“Every time you eat an organic apple or pear, you expose your gut flora to measurable levels of streptomycin and tetracycline,” explains the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). “This increases your chances of developing resistance to these important antibiotics, both of which are essential to treating human disease.”
Tell NOSB not to cave to corporate pressures — sign the petition and comment before April 8!
OCA has put together a petition urging NOSB to stick to its original plan outlawing the use of both streptomycin and tetracycline by October 21, 2014. The consumer advocacy group is urging supporters to sign the petition and leave comments before April 8, when they will all be delivered to NOSB for consideration. You can access the petition here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com
“Resistant genes already exist for tetracycline and streptomycin,” adds OCA. “Every time they are used, resistance is increased by killing bacteria susceptible to the antibiotics and leaving the others. Once resistant genes are present in any bacteria, they increase the pool of resistant genes and the likelihood that human pathogens will acquire that resistance.”