Mar 30, 2007
EPA Grants Section 18 for Gentamicin on Fire Blight in Michigan

EPA has granted a Section 18 emergency exemption for the use of the antibiotic gentamicin (Agry-Gent 10-W) on apples for control of fire blight in four Michigan counties.

EPA notified the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) of its decision March 22. The Section 18 request was originally submitted to EPA in November 2005.

According to Rick Cater, a representative for Gowan, the U.S. manufacturer of gentamicin, this is the first and only use EPA has approved for gentamicin on tree fruits or vegetables. It is also the first time EPA asked for comment from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before approving a use, he said.

As outlined in the letter from EPA:

• A maximum of 12,000 acres of apples may be treated in Michigan in Berrien, Kent, Ottawa and Van Buren counties.

• Gentamicin should only be applied when the fire blight forecasting model and/or fire blight state experts determine the weather conditions favor disease epidemic.

• Apply gentamicin only when the target plant pathogen is resistant to streptomycin.

• When the above conditions are met, a maximum of two applications of the 10-W formulation may be made by ground equipment at a rate of 3.5 pounds of product per acre. Application through irrigation is prohibited.

• Upon expiration of the exemption, all unopened and unused product must be returned to the dealer where purchased or to the manufacturer.

The effort to get an emergency exemption for gentamicin for control of fire blight was led by Michigan State University plant pathologist George Sundin, with support from Brian Hughes, registration program manager at the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division of MDA. They had broad support from the Michigan apple industry.

Gentamicin underwent efficacy trials 10 years ago at several universities. EPA has been reluctant to grant uses for antibiotics in plant agriculture.

Apple bloom in the affected area of Michigan usually occurs the last week of April and the first week of May. Cater said the season this year is about two weeks advanced. Conditions are conducive to fire blight outbreaks when weather during bloom is damp and temperatures are above 70? F for three days or more.

For more information, call Cater at (616) 450-2349, visit or call the MACMA Apple Division at (800) 292-2653.

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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