Pyrrhic progress: the history of antibiotics in Anglo-American food production

In this book talk, Claas will review central findings of his research on the past 80 years of antibiotic use, resistance, and regulation in food production with introduction by Prof Mark Harrison, Director of Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities.

Mass-introduced after 1945, antibiotics helped revolutionise food production. Farmers and veterinarians used antibiotics to prevent and treat disease, protect plants, preserve food, and promote animals’ growth. Many soon became dependent on routine antibiotic use to sustain and increase production. The resulting growth of antibiotic infrastructures came at a price. Critics blamed antibiotics for leaving dangerous residues in food, enabling bad animal welfare, and selecting for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria, which could no longer be treated with antibiotics.

Pyrrhic Progress analyses over 80 years of evolving non-human antibiotic use on both sides of the Atlantic and introduces readers to the historical and current complexities of antibiotic stewardship in a time of rising AMR.

Pyrrhic Progress can be ordered at the author discount rate at the event or via:

This talk includes a drinks reception and nibbles, all welcome