CULT: Agricultural Antibiotics--was "Looking for.."
In a message dated 12/3/99 7:49:56 AM Eastern Standard Time,
<< There was an article in a recent AIS bulletin where someone mentioned
some success with a product called Agrimycin (sp???) for help with bacterial
soft rot. Does anyone know anyplace where I can get this or can tell me more
about it? >>
This is an agricultural antibiotic and may be available at a farm supply
store. It is used for, among other things, combating fireblight disease on
fruit trees. It is a very powerful agricultural chemical of last resort.
However, I believe there are important ethical issues to be raised about the
use of antibiotics in agriculture, and about the use of any treatments of
last resort on ornamental plants, especially in home gardens.
l am not knowledgeable enough to speak with any authority on the scientific
aspects of this, and thus will evoke Ian below, but I will tell you that I
learned about AgriStrep some years ago and purchased some, but I will never
use it in this garden. Period. There is no plant in this garden important
enough to use antibiotics on it. Period. And I don't want any plant that
requires that kind of chemical arsenal. Period.
One very scary thing is that people really go to town with these antibiotics.
I've heard of chemicals which are effective in a solution of one quarter
teaspoon of powder per gallon of water being dusted on like Comet. It is
I'm taking the liberty of including portions of two posts made in the distant
past by Ian Efford on related issues. They resonate in my mind to this day.
<<<<<<<It is absolutely essential that we use any antibiotics sparingly and
only when there is no alternative. It might even be better to throw the
plant away and try another variety. Deaths from bacteria that are resistant
to all known antibiotics are increasing. This is largely because of mis-use,
particularly over-subscription by doctors. Ontario has had some serious
scares lately when hospitals have been required to close admissions patients
and isolate wards in order to contain
outbreaks. As many of these cases are traced to patients that were treated
recently in a US hospital, there has even been discussion of isolating all
patients transfered from the US in order to contain the problem. I did a
study some time ago on the feeding of excess amounts of antibiotics to
piglets in Quebec, a major pig breeding area. The result is antibiotics in
all of the water systems in the drainage area and
antibiotic resistant salmonella. The latter have lead to deaths of older
people in retirement homes in both Quebec and England (the latter from eating
veal treated the same way). This comment is not intended to scare people,
just to ask for caution.
.....mentioned drenching a whole bed with tetracycline to treat against rot.
This seems to be scientifically irresponsible. Firstly, there are hundreds of
species of bacteria and fungi in the bed that are playing vital roles in the
breakdown of organic matter into nutrients, etc. An indiscriminate use of an
antibiotic will affect at least a number of these species, other more
resistant forms will replace them and the balance of nature in the bed will
be destroyed, at least for a while. You may not
affect the fertility in the long run but you could over a short period (a
year??). Secondly, the bacteria that generate diseases, such a rot, are
present in the environment. They are only effective in attaching organisms
when the conditions weaken the organism (whether it is an iris or humans).
One way of reducing resistance to disease is to remove the disease. I was
involved with the study of a "new" disease on Easter Island in the South
Pacific years ago. When a ship arrive, people died. After 36 medical
experts examined the problem for four months, it was concluded that the
population died from the prevailing bacterial/viral disease that was carried
by the ship's population, not by a particular disease. The population lacked
exposure to the disease and therefore lacked resistance.
Tetracycline used to eliminate the disease might, in the long run, result in
a greater death rate in the irises.Thirdly, the human population is suffering
severely from more and more diseases that are resistant to antibiotics. We
have flesh eating disease,
TB etc. outbreaks where no antibiotics work. This is because the public
forces the doctors to perscribe antibiotics when one is not need and the
bacteria develop resistance. Tetracyline was once held back as the final
defense but overuse has meant that defense is no longer available. The more
we use antibiotics where they are not essential, the greater chance we have
of bacterial disease in humans becoming uncontrollable. In my view, if you
have to use an antibiotic, be very specific, use it on the plant not on the
environment. Try to avoid the need by changing the planting conditions so
that the plants are better able to resist the
disease. Alternatively, as someone has mentioned on the list, discard the
plant and find a resistant variety. Sorry for the diatribe but this is an
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