Court Disallows Use of Streptomycin on Citrus

Tacy CalliesLegal, Pesticides

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 13 reversed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the antibiotic streptomycin as a pesticide on citrus crops. See the ruling here.

The court determined the EPA’s 2021 decision to allow spraying of streptomycin on citrus crops across the country to be unlawful under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act. It also held that the seriousness of the EPA’s errors required it to vacate approval of the pesticide. 

The decision directs the EPA to bolster its analysis of the potential risks to pollinators and assess whether streptomycin is actually effective for one of its approved uses.

Streptomycin is used to treat illnesses ranging from tuberculosis to urinary tract infections.

“The decision protects pollinators, imperiled species and the health of farmworkers who would otherwise face heightened risk of antibiotic-resistant infections,” stated the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The widespread use of streptomycin in agriculture could also cause long-term harm to animal and plant biodiversity.”

NRDC was one of the groups that petitioned the court for reversal of the EPA’s decision to allow streptomycin’s use on citrus. Other petitioners were   U.S. Public Interest Research Group, represented by NRDC; Beyond Pesticides; Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida; Farmworker Association of Florida; Farmworker Justice; Migrant Clinicians Network, represented by Earthjustice; and the Center for Biological Diversity. Learn more about the history of the streptomycin lawsuit.

“We don’t need to blast medically important antibiotics into the environment. It undermines the effectiveness of those substances and threatens the pollinators that the food system requires,” said NRDC attorney Allison Johnson. “We do not have to choose between a stable food supply and pollinators. We need both. Organic producers show that we do not have to sacrifice one for the other by building healthy farm ecosystems without wanton antibiotic usage.”

 Source: NRDC