Against the strong warnings of the United States CDC and FDA, and contrary to norms that make such practices illegal in places like the European Union and Brazil, "The E.P.A. has proposed allowing as much as 650,000 pounds of streptomycin to be sprayed on citrus crops each year. By comparison, Americans annually use 14,000 pounds of aminoglycosides, the class of antibiotics that includes streptomycin."
We are already facing a health landscape in which drug-resistant infections are becoming increasingly common in humans. When bacteria encounter antibiotics, the weakest bacteria are killed off first, while the strongest bacteria that can quickly adapt to fight the medicine sometimes survive. This happens especially frequently when people only take 4 days of an antibiotic even though their doctor prescribed 7 days, for example. Those remaining stronger bacteria are the ones that reproduce, making bacteria babies that carry on their antibiotic-fighting traits and go on to infect the next person. If this happens frequently, due to adaptable bacteria having regular encounters with antibiotics, bacteria emerge that cannot be fought off even with our strongest existing antibiotics.
Spraying streptomycin in large quantities for agricultural purposes will speed up this process of creating stronger bacteria that human medicine can no longer fight.
I sympathize with farmers who are losing their entire crop and source of income. At the same time, I can confidently say that there is no single fruit or vegetable that I would save if it meant returning to a time when the plague and TB killed large numbers of people or when the most basic life-saving surgeries like C-sections were not safe due to the infections that followed. Before the discovery of antibiotics, average life expectancy was 47 years old. I am alarmed at the rate we are using antibiotics in humans and cannot fathom a world in which it makes sense to use nearly 50 times that amount to save a beloved fruit.
I am contacting my representatives in Congress to fight this decision, because I want to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for years to come. I hope you will do the same.