EPA has approved two new bacteriophage products, AgriPhage-Fire Blight and AgriPhage-Citrus Canker. Certis USA, OmniLytics, Inc.’s marketing partner in the U.S., will launch these products in 2019 for use by growers of apple, pear, and citrus.
The AgriPhage products are based on bacteriophages (“bacteria eaters”), naturally occurring organisms that infect and kill only targeted bacteria. Phage treatment is a unique mode of action presenting a highly desirable option for management of bacterial diseases. Bacteriophages target only their host bacteria and is said to present an extremely low risk to users, beneficial species, and the environment.
AgriPhage products are exempt from residue tolerance and maximum residue limits (MRLs), have only a four-hour re-entry interval (REI) for farmworkers and are National Organic Program (NOP) approved for use in organic agriculture.
“The advent of phage therapy for fire blight in apples and pears is especially timely,” Dr. Michael Dimock, Certis USA VP of Field Development, said. “The use of antibiotics against this disease has come under increased pressure due to resistance in the causal bacterium (Erwinia amylovora) and global movement to restrict or reduce use of antibiotics in crop protection. While these AgriPhage products can perform as stand-alone blight or canker treatments, the long-term value to citrus and pome fruit growers is their utility in resistance management programs to extend the effectiveness of antibiotics and other tactics.”