January 17, 2018

Consumer Groups Urge Organics to Stop Antibiotic Use

The Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, and Food & Water Watch are urging the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) to discontinue the use of antibiotics in apple and pear production. Most consumers (me included) do not know that antibiotics are used to treat diseases in fruit trees. And most think that fruit treated this way should not be qualified to carry the “organic” label.

The antibiotic oxytetracycline is sprayed on these treats to treat a disease called fire blight. Some farmers also use streptomycin on fruit trees. Antibiotics are not allowed in the production of other types of organic food, including farm animals. Consumer groups and scientists are concerned about the massive amount of evidence linking antibiotic use to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The NOSB is planning to vote this week on a petition that would extend the use of oxytetracycline beyond the date of October 21, 2014, when it is set to expire. The groups submitted more than 35,000 public comments to the NOSB before the meeting. And here’s an interesting point: U.S. farmers do not use antibiotics on the organic apples and pears that are sold to Europe, where that use is banned.

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