The F.D.A. announcement on Wednesday has the effect of restricting some but not all uses of cephalosporins in agriculture and is therefore a modest step that is likely to please some consumer advocates but lead others to grumble that the agency needs to do much more.
"We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals," said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the agency.
The F.D.A. initially proposed its cephalosporin restrictions in 2008 but withdrew the rule before it became effective because of opposition from farmers and ranchers. The rule announced Wednesday is less strict than the one proposed in 2008; it allows for unrestricted use of cephapirin, an older member of the class of cephalosporins that is not thought to contribute significantly to antimicrobial resistance. And the new rule allows veterinarians to continue to use the drugs to treat many illnesses in feed animals as long as they follow guidelines about dosing and duration of use. The new rule also allows for use of the drugs in ducks and rabbits.
Just wait until we get our first antibiotic-resistant epidemic. Then people will regret that agribusiness interests, and their own desire for cheap meat, led them to ignore this problem.