Interesting journey from soybean-fueled cars to superbugs and AMR
Do you know the interesting history of Henry Ford’s plans to manufacture soybean fueled cars and how antibiotics began to be used in agriculture in the US?
When researchers found out in late 1920s that soybean could produce lubricants and plastic as well as oils and high protein meal, US farmers started to increase soybeans planting heavily. Henry Ford played a major role as a research financier as well as buyer and seller of the soybeans. Because of the giant oil reserve was discovered in Saudi Arabia during late 1930s, the need for low-cost alternative to petroleum vanished. Soybean stocks were started to use as a feed for heavily increasing chicken production. However, the chicken were not growing fast enough and nutritious boost was needed. Researchers discovered that a byproduct of making antibiotic streptomycin could be fed to fatten the chicken.
Penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming raised – already in 1945 – a concern that in agriculture low used doses of antibiotics which did not wipe out infections, could lead to AMR. Already in 1955 a penicillin-resistant strain of the staphylococcus bacterium was found in the US.
Today around 80% of all US antibiotic production are fed to farm animals and AMR has become one of biggest challenges to global health.
Fortunately consumers’ raising awareness is leading the producers to have to look for alternative, antibiotic-free production methods around world.
Link to Bloomberg’s story: