Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats

Maryn McKenna. National Geographic, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4262-1766-1
In this well-written exposé, McKenna (Superbug) dissects the controversy of the routine use of antibiotics to fatten chicken, which has lead to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. She chronicles the history of how poultry became a product of research labs, and lays out a history of antibiotics and poultry. The practice of adding growth promoters began in the 1940s; a well-financed chicken lobby first fended off a 1969 British health committee report decrying growth promoter and then, in 1977, opposed U.S. FDA regulations despite many national disease outbreaks. The author surveys some of the leading progressive chicken breeders and their supporters, examining the campaign to push large enterprises such as Purdue, Tyson, and McDonald’s to forgo growth-enhancing drugs following recent World Health Organization and FDA reports. Throughout, McKenna offers spot-on commentary on the dangerous additives in chickens and concludes on a relatively hopeful note. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/25/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
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