(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2014) It was quite a shock that a blueberry pie could give a 10-year old girl such a terrible allergic reaction that it led her to be taken to the hospital. She experienced facial flushes, hives and irregular breathing. Fortunately, she recovered in the hospital after they treated her with epinephrine. Even though the girl has asthma and allergies to milk and penicillin, it was not the pie she had the allergic reaction to, but the residue of an antibiotic found in the blueberries.
In order to understand why she had those reactions, doctors tested her for allergies to ingredients within the pie and all came up negative. When they discovered that the blueberries had been contaminated with streptomycin, they gave her an allergy test. She had all the same reactions. Further research done by scientists solidified the fact that the blueberries had been contaminated with the antibiotic. While streptomycin is used to treat infections in people, it is also used in industrial agriculture, mixed with pesticides that are used on crops in attempts to stop bacteria and blight. According to the lead author of the study, Anne Des Roches MD, this is the first time an allergic reaction has been linked to fruits treated with antibiotic-laden pesticides.
In 2013, Beyond Pesticides, along with other organizations, led the charge to remove antibiotics from organic apple and pear production because it contributes to antibiotic resistance. Until 2013, both oxytetracycline and streptomycin were allowed for use in organic production, after numerous years of National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) phase-out Â extensions. Consumers have an expectation that their organic foods are being produced without the use of antibiotics. Organic has been uniquely markets as â€śno antibioticsâ€ť and Beyond Pesticides will continue to support consumer Â demand for an antibiotic-free diet.
Unfortunately, these antibiotics will continue to be used on non-organic crops, given the absence of a framework that encourages least-toxic alternatives that do not cause undue harm to human health or the wider environment. Organic agriculture can supply us with healthy food without the use of toxic chemicals.
It is important to eat organic food â€”nurtured in a system of food production, handling and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals. USDA organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health. This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic â€”pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farm workers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife.
With more and more Americans eating organic food, Â it is important to take action to ensure a Â strong organic program and increase public trust in the organic food label. Eating with a Conscience looks at the toxic chemicals that are allowed in the production of the food we eat and the environmental and public health effects resulting from their use. Visit Â Beyond Pesticidesâ€™ Â Save Our Organics Â page for information on what you can do to secure an organic future.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.