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Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, EPA Approves Use of Important TB Antibiotic as Pesticide

As the nation struggles to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has approved an antibiotic considered critical in the ongoing fight against the global tuberculosis pandemic for use as a pesticide on California citrus groves. This marks the third straight year the so-called “emergency” approval has been granted for use of streptomycin to fight citrus greening disease in citrus trees like oranges, tangerines and grapefruits in California. As has become routine under the Trump Environmental Protection Agency over the past year, the emergency approval was not publicly announced but quietly posted to agency’s Emergency Exemption Database. “The Trump administration’s shortsighted approval of medically important antibiotics as pesticides has very dangerous long-term consequences,” said Nathan Donley, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These are lifesaving medicines, and we risk losing them forever if we keep using them as short-term fixes for reoccurring agricultural diseases.” The EPA’s own analysis indicates that the widespread use of streptomycin could have negative long-term effects on all mammals that forage in treated fields, including chipmunks and rabbits. The EPA has also not analyzed how this change could affect endangered and threatened species that forage or nest in these citrus groves, or that rely on waterways contaminated by the antibiotic.  Read more....

 

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