In 1928, a bacteriologist working at St Mary’s Hospital in London noticed that the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus could be destroyed by a kind of mold called Penicillium notatum, accidentally discovering antibiotics in the process. His name was Alexander Fleming.
85 years later, you could very well die from the same bacteria that he helped fight.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing, and much under-hyped problem. According to Wired, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) kills an estimated 19,000 Americans a year. That’s slightly more than HIV, and more than pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, H. influenzae and group A Streptococcus combined.
Because we’re so used to thinking of antibiotics as the miracle cure-all that we can just take at any time, for any ailment, we often take them for no good reason. Think of all those times you had a slight sniffle and your mother gave you a dose “just to be sure.” Not good.
What’s more, coming up with new antibiotics have not been high on our priority list.
(For more background on the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, check out our post here).
To raise awareness about the issue, Michael Graziano, co-founder of Uji Films, decided to make a movie about it. Titled “Resistance,” the film explains the threat of microbial resistance, providing historical and economic context.
Graziano launched a Kickstarter project to raise funds to finish the film. Unfortunately, the project fell short of its goal and was unsuccessful, perhaps proving the point that microbial resistance is a silent killer. Past Uji films have aired on The Documentary Channel, NYC-TV, and at a variety of festivals.
In an opinion piece on Civil Eats, Graziano appealed to the public on the importance of the issue, comparing antibiotic resistance to food consumption:
“Imagine that we had developed an affordable way to grow healthy, nutritious, food that, as long as we kept it fresh and did not eat too much of it, could revolutionize the quality of human life on earth. Now imagine that instead of conserving this miracle food we consumed it recklessly and with very little understanding of the long-term implications of doing so. Then add to this equation a variable dictating that once one of these foods tips over into being unhealthy, or at least not pro-health, there is almost no way to recuperate it’s health-inducing properties. I know, hard to imagine such a thing happening to our food supply (sigh), but replace food with antibiotics in the scenario above and that is essentially the current state of affairs.”
The film features interviews with leading experts such as Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who has not only been extremely outspoken on the problem of antimicrobial resistance but is also a trained microbiologist; Maryn McKenna, journalist and author of the book and the WIRED blog “Superbug, » and Dan Glickman, former US Secretary of Agriculture for the Clinton administration (click here for the full list).
Check out the trailer below: