Sunday, June 17, 2012

the skygods & earthlings of 1936's "Anti-Bacterial Wars" : synthetic Sulfa versus natural Penicillin

    Rather incredulously, I slowly backed into the poop we call 2012's Climate Change Wars ---- from research I had been conducting on a highly similar war - from more than 75 years ago!
   That war, more a skirmish in its earliest stages, was between the old anti-bacterial agent, natural penicillin and the new anti-bacterial agent, synthetic Sulfa.

   At the July 1936 London meeting that was the Second International Congress on Microbiology, Martin Henry Dawson witnessed that the natural penicillin offered up by its discoverer , Alex Fleming, was winning no takers, not against the new synthetic Sulfa drug , whose life-saving possibilities were rapidly seized upon by keen-eyed researchers like Perrin Long.
   Man-made totally beat nature-made, not unexpectedly in the Mid-Thirties : 1-0 for the Skygods.
   But 7 years later in late 1943, the cart was on the other horse: the Earthlings, led by the hard-charging/rapidly dying  Dr Dawson, had gotten a second wind and were miles ahead of the Skygods.
   When Natural Penicillin beat Made-Made Sulfa ( sulfa what ? sulfa who ?), High Modernity & Scientism was not down and out - not yet - but it was badly wounded.
    Naturally ( and not synthetically) I am very interested in Naomi Oreskes' MERCHANTS OF DOUBT, highlighting earlier corporate campaigns to sow doubt over scientific warnings, starting in the 1950s.
   But I do think the battle raged on even earlier - but not in the area of popular science but inside public (peer-reviewed) science - as I hope my wartime penicillin study will show....

No comments:

Post a Comment