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FDA bans some – but not all – farmyard antibiotics

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PREVENTION is not always better than cure. The US Food and Drug Administration has finally moved to restrict the farmyard use of antibiotics to prevent livestock illness over concerns that they may generate antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But the announcement covers such a small subset of drugs that campaigners fear the superbug threat will remain.

The FDA's apparently encouraging announcement last week will lead to severe restrictions on the farmyard use of cephalosporin antibiotics. But campaigners claim that these antibiotics account for only 0.2 per cent of antibiotic use on farms, and have accused the FDA of quietly withdrawing proposals dating from 1977 to tackle the wider use of tetracycline and penicillin antibiotics.

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