If I were to define myself professionally, I’d say I am equal parts microbiologist, molecular biologist, and biochemist. I obtained my doctorate in biochemistry in 1986, working on the genetic instability and antibiotic resistance of bacteria. Since then, I’ve studied bacterial pathogenesis, vaccine biotechnology, and more recently, the biochemistry of iron uptake by Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes, two potentially lethal bacterial contaminants of food. As a result of these experiences, I have strong opinions about the use of antibiotics in food production.
Watching the news this week, I saw a pig farmer from my home state (Oklahoma) defending the practice of feeding pigs antibiotics to improve their health and weight. I’d love nothing better than to invite that man over for a cup of coffee and a conversation, so I could ask him what exactly he knows about the use of antibiotics. For example, has he ever heard of the term “plasmid?” What about you? If you care to read about it, then follow me to the next page….