Monday, November 25, 2013

Antibiotics: an ever evolving story

I really think that the issue of antibiotic resistance gets too little play, so I am happy to see it discussed -- even if the discussion errs on the alarmist side.  In particular, I am unclear as to why we can't rotate antibiotics, why we even imagine that antibiotic soap is a good idea, and would be interested to hear a good reason for the routine use of antibiotics in raising cattle. 

The last is the strangest -- we are subsidizing meat production by not making farmers pay for the externality of antibiotic resistance.  I have no trouble with meat consumption, but it is unclear to me that it is an ideal target for subsidy given the high energy costs of that food source. 

However, it is true that we would still have options post-antibiotics.  Alcohol, heat treatments, and, surprisingly, silver remain effective despite antibiotic resistance.  Having said that, there is no reason we couldn't be doing more to make use of these techniques and rely less on the medications to which germs become resistant with time. 


  1. I'd say "errs on the alarmist side" is putting it mildly but this is a tremendously important discussion.

  2. McMegan... really you send unsuspecting readers to a McMegan article?! Don't expect your readers to support you when you're dragged to the Hague for crimes against humanity.
    Oh, and McMegan trotted that tripe out previously, and the stench of its rotting has gotten worse. She gave a talk about antibiotic research and development that clearly demonstrated she has absolutely no knowledge of microbiology or pharmacology. I hoped that you would recognize that she's Dunning - Kruger incarnate when she discusses subjects such as this one.

  3. Mark isn't a big McMegan fan, either. I mostly took it as a launching pad for the topic, but I admit I have never seen her speak (nor, given where I live and what I do, am I ever likely to).