Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Goaty Penicillin" : how Big Science contaminated natural penicillin at least as much as it 'purified' it

GOATY penicillin
Is it actually a legal requirement that academic historians write peans to Van Bush, the OSRD and Big Science in World War II , before they get a sizeable grant ?

One might think so.

Very few historians have ever questioned whether it is really true -based on evidence, not on mere faith - that natural penicillin was 'rescued'  by "Big Science" .

Rescued when penicillin was no longer made in hospital labs, close to the time & space that the hospital's patients was about to receive it, and instead was made in huge plants many weeks earlier and thousands of miles away .

Mom's biscuits, made fresh - right before her kids' eyes - moments before they ate them ---- they had to be unsafe eating, right ??  ----especially compared to biscuits made in a huge factory half a continent away and weeks earlier.

Most of us don't think so - Mom's biscuits didn't need any chemical preservatives to be edible - but industrial food ?

Full of the stuff.

Store bought biscuits are just full of traces of chemical preservatives.

True natural penicillin often did have natural impurities, materials made at the same time that penicillin itself was by the penicillium mold.

But were they unsafe ? The evidence simply isn't there that they ever caused death or serious harm.

Yes when penicillin was "purified" , some of these natural impurities were removed but also some were converted via chemical reactions with powerful solvents, into un-natural chemicals.

And traces of the solvents themselves are often dangerous - perhaps even more so than the natural impurities they were introduced to remove !

Technically, these chemicals are not (natural) impurities at all but contaminants (added during processing).

Some how, the chemistry-obsessed doctors and medical bureaucrats behind Big Science penicillin never publicly mentioned the new contaminants they had just introduced.

 All they did was warn the public and other doctors against supposedly "dangerous" natural impurities ----- made by their free lance "natural " competitors in the hospital labs.

But by 1970, people could be more frank in print.

 Industrial penicillin pioneer Ronald Hare described Canada's first batch of industrial penicillin (April 26th 1944) as 20 million units of strong goaty smelling penicillin.

 This was thanks to traces of the rancid-smelling caprylic alcohol used in the processing (one of about a couple dozen strong chemicals used !) and  - sigh ! - still as dirty yellow as any hospital lab made penicillin......

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