• Matteo De Vos

FFS 040 - Factory Farmed Superbugs

We are on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era. The golden age of miracle drugs may be coming to an end.


To understand why, award-winning author Maryn McKenna joins us on the show to discuss the long intertwined history of antibiotics and industrial animal agriculture.



We discuss:


  • What antibiotic resistance is and why it’s ‘the greatest slow-brewing health crisis of our time’

  • Why bacteria are winning and why Big Pharma are dragging their feet

  • The birth of antibiotics and how it enabled industrial livestock production

  • Why chicken lies at the centre of the story of antibiotics and industrial meat

  • A bizarre footnote called “Acronizing” in the story of antibiotics

  • The fight to ban the use of growth promoting antibiotics

  • The legislative battles ahead in fighting preventive use of antibiotics

  • Beyond the doom and gloom: different models of antibiotic-free animal agriculture from around the world

  • Wider lessons for the food movement from the story of antibiotics


Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a columnist for WIRED, a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University. Her latest book “BIg Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (also published internationally under the title Plucked) received the 2018 Science in Society Award and was named a best book of 2017 by Amazon, Smithsonian, Science News, Wired, Civil Eats and other publications. She writes for The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Mother Jones, Newsweek, NPR, Smithsonian,S cientific American, Slate, The Atlantic, Nature, and The Guardian, among other publications.


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