Pyrrhic Progress has been awarded the International Committee on the History of Technology’s (ICOHTEC) 2020 Turriano Prize for the best early career research on the history of technology. The official award ceremony will take place on 17 July.
Pyrrhic Progress analyses over half a century of antibiotic use, regulation, and resistance in US and British food production. Mass-introduced after 1945, antibiotics helped revolutionize post-war agriculture. Food producers 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 reconstructs the complicated negotiations that accompanied this process of risk prioritization between consumers, farmers, and regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. Kirchhelle’s comprehensive analysis of evolving non-human antibiotic use and the complexities of antibiotic stewardship provides important insights for current debates on the global burden of AMR and intensive animal production. This Open Access ebook is available under a CC-BY-NC-ND license, and is supported by a generous grant from the Wellcome Trust.