Antiobiotic use on organic apples and pears

ID-1005279 (2)Think organic farming doesn’t use harmful compounds, think again. As the expiry date for the use of the antibiotics, Streptomycin and Oxytetracycline, on organic apple and pear farming in the US approaches, much debate has arisen over the standards for organic farming and food labelling.

Apples and pears are subject to an infection called Fire Blight, which can devastate entire orchards For that reason organic farmers have received an exemption allowing them to spray certain antibiotics to tackle this disease. In 2002 when the US Department of Agriculture’s national organic labelling standards went into effect the two antibiotics were included in a list of ‘allowed’ compounds subject to periodic review. This exemption is set to expire in October 2014, which supposedly allowed time to develop new, non-antibiotic, methods of control. But as 2014 approaches and a viable alternative is still lacking, some groups are battling for an extension on this expiry date.

Last week the National Organic Standards Board met to discuss a petition from organic farmers to extend the exemption. They rejected this petition and use of the antibiotic Oxytetracyline will not be allowed beyond the existing expiration date. In six months’ time the Board will meet again to discuss the use of Streptomycin. [Read more…]