Organic apple and pear growers will not be able to use antibiotics on their orchards after Oct. 21, 2014. The National Organic Standards Board decided to ban the practice Thursday during a meeting in Portland.
For a decade, apples and pears could be certified as organic, even if orchards were treated with antibiotics. Growers use the drugs to prevent a disease called fire blight.
The two antibiotics growers commonly use also treat acne and tuberculosis in people. Antibiotics are banned in other organic food production. Food safety groups argue they create drug-resistant bugs that threaten people’s health.
But growers worry about their orchards without protection from antibiotics. Alternative ways to fight fire blight are being tested.
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