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Over Dose: Citrus Crops to Receive Human Antibiotics

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Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressed concern over a recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that opens the door to widespread use of the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline to spray commercial citrus crops. The antibiotics, which are often used on people, can kill insects that transmit a bacterium that causes citrus greening, which renders fruit small and bitter. But the EPA ultimately ruled that the economic benefits outweigh concerns about antibiotic resistance and potential harm to the environment, people and wildlife. The USDA says the amount of antibiotic exposure to people who eat fruit or juices still will be far less than what people are exposed to when prescribed antibiotics by their doctor. The antibiotics will have to be sprayed repeatedly over years just to keep the trees alive and producing fruit until they succumb to citrus greening. Public interest groups are protesting the action.


This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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