June 20, 2018

Petition to Allow Antibiotics on Organic Fruit Denied

Yesterday we told you about the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) being petitioned to allow the use of oxytetracycline, an antibiotic, on organic pears and apples beyond October 21, 2014. The NOSB rejected that petition, so the antibiotic will not be used on fruit trees after that date.

The debate over the petition was long and contentious because some growers think they don’t have good alternatives to antibiotics, which are used to fight fire blight. Since antibiotics are not allowed in any other kinds of organically produced food, including food animals, advocates wanted to see the use of this antibiotic ended in orchards.

The Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, and Food & Water Watch issued a statement that said, “we urge the USDA to help growers continue to find workable alternative treatments for fire blight that are compatible with organic production. The Board passed a resolution to encourage the USDA to investigate a transitional option for the emergency use of tetracycline until 2017. The agency must guarantee that any emergency use is extremely limited, ends as soon as possible and, most importantly, apples and pears from treated trees cannot be sold as organic.”

To learn more about organically grown foods and how they are labeled, visit helpguide.org. That page will help you understand what “organic” means, tell you about the hazards of pesticides, and give you guidance about organic food labels.

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