Is there even a point in continuing to say, “When we will learn?” I feel like a broken record…
“The Trump administration has given the go-ahead for agricultural operations to spray antibiotics on nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, a move some scientists warn could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in people and in the environment.”1
The drugs? Streptomycin and oxytetracycline (often used on people) as a pesticide on commercially grown citrus. (Both of which have been banned for use as pesticides on agricultural plants by the European Union and Brazil.)
The praying was requested by Florida’s Department of Agriculture and numerous citrus growers.
So now it won’t just be people and animals using too many antibiotics, too often, but our agriculture as well.
But get this, the antibiotics will not cure the disease and will have to be sprayed repeatedly- OVER YEARS- (officials are trying to combat a disease called “citrus greening”) just to keep the trees alive and producing fruit until they eventually succumb to citrus greening.
“Allowing so much antibiotic residue in Florida soils, runoff, and air is unprecedented. It’s unclear how much of the antibiotics – sprayed on leaves and taken up into the plant’s vascular system – will end up in fruit; it’s never been sprayed on this scale before.
Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed concern, but ultimately ruled that the economic benefits outweigh the agency’s concerns about antibiotic resistance and potential harm to the environment, people, and wildlife. The amount of antibiotic exposure to people who eat fruit or juices is far less than what people are exposed to when prescribed antibiotics by their doctor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports.”2
The next time you are just sure you should trust the EPA, re-read this article, and this sentence again, in particular:
“…but ultimately ruled that the economic benefits outweigh the agency’s concerns about antibiotic resistance and potential harm to the environment, people, and wildlife.”
The first concern is economics.
We’ve said it for years. Here’s the proof.
Thankfully, the move has its critics. Whether or not anyone listens to them, remains to be seen. Hopefully, it won’t be too late once they finally do:
Nathan Donley, the Center for Biological Diversity’s senior scientist- He has a serious concern that the EPA hasn’t fully analyzed how spraying antibiotics at this scale could affect people, wildlife, and waterways. “…uncertainty exists regarding the potential for development of resistance, or cross-resistance with other antibiotics, that could result from pesticide applications.”3
Keep Antibiotics Working- In a letter to the EPA, the organization wrote, “Florida makes the unsubstantiated claim that cycling between the two antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline will ‘minimize any selection pressure’ and therefore can be considered ‘an effective resistance management program’ that will not only reduce resistance in the target organism but ‘should also help in preventing development of resistance in nontarget bacteria as well.’ The use of cycling of antibiotics as proposed here for the management of resistance is highly controversial even in human medicine and there is no clear evidence that it can be considered ‘an effective resistance management program.”4
We already know that factory farms use far too many antibiotics and that eating meat from U.S. grocery stores is like going on a field trip to the pharmacist, but another concern is how this spraying 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.”5
In the hopes of combating that issue, agricultural officials and growers will cycle between different antibiotics. But Keep Antibiotics Working says there’s no good science to show that would work and according to Donley, these drugs are nothing more than “a really lousy answer to a complex problem, and the potential for risk outweighs the benefits. This is just another example of the pesticide office of the EPA approving a pesticide that’s not been studied well enough for the agency to make a competent decision on its safety. This happens a lot, where the pesticide office approves a pesticide without studies, then 10 to 15 years later we find out it has unintended consequences to human health or to environmental health and at that point it is often too late and the damage has been done.”6
Apparently, antibiotic spraying has been used in apple and pear orchards for years, as well as on Florida citrus during emergencies, but at much lower levels than what will now be allowed in Florida and California.
According to The Center for Biological Diversity, the new approval could see up to 480,000 acres of Florida citrus treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year.