The Great Food Gamble
"We are on the brink of what could prove to be a medical catastrophe…. The superbugs are with us.” Ominous words from John Humphrys, voice of Radio Four's Today programme, Sunday Times columnist and, we now discover, one time Welsh dairy farmer and angry agriculturalist. In a readable book that seeks to expose and condemn the “effect of modern food production methods on our health,” Humphrys attributes the evolution of multidrug resistant “superbugs” partly to overprescribing, but mostly to the alarmingly liberal use of antibiotics in poultry farming.
Those of us in the medical profession may find references to a potential “medical catastrophe” unduly alarming. We may also find his account of bacterial drug resistance unhelpfully simplistic: repeated exposure to antibiotics “may be the microbial equivalent of feeding spinach to Popeye,” we are told.
Clearly, Humphrys is not offering anyone an objective education in medical science. Instead, he provides a