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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal court judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to take action on its own 35-year-old rule that would stop farmers from mixing antibiotics into animal feed, a practice which has led to dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

In 1977, the FDA concluded that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock, poultry and other animals weakened the effectiveness of the lifesaving drugs in humans. The agency issued a proposal that would ban non-medical use of penicillin and tetracycline in farm animals. But the proposal idled for more than three decades, after vigorous pushback from members of Congress and lobbyists.

In a ruling handed down Thursday, Judge Theodore Katz said the FDA must begin steps to withdraw routine use of the drugs in animals, siding with a lawsuit by consumer advocates.

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