The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided that the economic benefits of spraying antibiotics on millions of citrus trees outweighs the cost of potential antibiotic resistance.
On Dec. 10, the Trump administration approved the use of two medically important antibiotics, oxytetracycline and streptomycin, as pesticides to combat citrus greening. Previously, these antibiotics were kept on reserve at citrus operations for emergency use only. This decision allows for agribusinesses to spray more than 650,000 pounds of these antibiotics per year. The catch? The antibiotics won't even cure the disease.
"There is no possible economic benefit that could outweigh the value of our life-saving antibiotics," said Matt Wellington, director of our national campaign to Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics. "The EPA's own scientists have even expressed concern about the widespread use of these antibiotics in agriculture."
At a time when antibiotic resistance is threatening to send us into a global health crisis, the federal government is allowing a 20-fold increase of antibiotic use in agriculture, putting our life-saving medicines at further risk.
Read more about the decision here.
Photo Caption: Citrus groves like this all across Florida will be covered in thousands of pounds of antibiotics each year. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr CC BY 2.0