Dirty little secret….is your Organic fruit sprayed with antibiotics?

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 1:15 PM



There’s a dirty little secret in some organic fruit orchards in and around the US.
When you bite into that juicy apple or pear that has the label "Organic" do you feel better about your decision to buy organic, thinking it will be free of antibiotics?? THINK AGAIN. That apple/or pear you just paid triple the price for may have been sprayed with antibiotics.
Late August, The USDA has approved “new options for organic producers and processors” that will go in effect until October 21, 2014. 
Last August, the USDA released quietly this ruling: USDA quietly released 
The National Organic Program published a final rule today that addresses the use of three substances in organic agriculture with specific limitations that would support production and processing of organic products.

Effective August 3, the allowance for the use of tetracycline in organic apple and pear production will be extended until Oct. 21, 2014, providing two years for the development of alternatives for fire blight control. Additionally, producers will have the option of using formic acid as a means of controlling varroa and tracheal mites in organic honey bee operations, while processors will have the option of using attapulgite, a nonsynthetic processing aid, for purification of plant and animal oils.

What is Tetracycline? Tetracycline has been allowed in organic crop production since 2002 solely to control a bacterial disease called "fire blight". Fire blight is a serious disease that can wipe out entire orchards in one season. However, according to the Organic Consumers Association, the practice of spraying fruit with antibiotics is a real concern. ”Use of antibiotics on fruit trees may not play as important a role in antibiotic resistance as the rampant use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock, but it does have an impact on the pool of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – something organic agriculture should not be a part of…Every time you eat an organic apple or pear, you risk exposing your gut flora to measureable levels of streptomycin and tetracycline. This increases your chances of developing resistance to these important antibiotics, both of which are essential to treating human disease.”


According to Wikipedia, “ Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum polyketide antibiotic produced by the Streptomyces genus of Actinobacteria, indicated for use against many bacterial infections.”  Some of the problematic side effects of tetracycline: 
 Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, mouth sores, black hairy tongue, sore throat, dizziness, headache, or rectal discomfort may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Is it time to grow your own fruits and vegetables? It may be. At least that way, you know what goes into your crops, and can attest if it's "organic".

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