Category Archives: TED talk

TED Talk on the Coming Antibiotic Crisis

This 14-minute TED talk by Ramanan Laxminarayan discusses the history, the challenges, and the squandering of antibiotic use, beginning with the story of penicillin.

“To save a few pennies” for our meat, we’ve used antibiotics sub-clinically for growth-promotion, not for treatment.

Now, bacterial resistance has become common.

Included in the talk is a stunning must-see U.S. map showing the progression of Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii across the states from 1999 to 2012.

“we stand at a cross-roads”

Every time an individual misuses an antibiotic, it affects humanity as a whole, which is “a problem of the commons”. Laxminarayan describes this as a problem of co-evolution, and compares it to using oil appropriately – related to climate change. He suggests an antibiotic tax just like people have suggested emissions taxes.

The newer antibiotics are becoming much more expensive, too. He tells us that this newer higher price is a signal that we need to practice conservation of antibiotics, just as high priced gasoline signals to us that we need to switch to methods that conserve gasoline. He mentions newer avenues and investments in antibiotic technologies, but says that these need to be balanced by investing in the proper use of antibiotics.

Because of resistance to our treatments across quite a number of areas to technologies we’ve only had for the past 80 to 100 years,

“essentially in a blink, we have squandered our ability to control”

because we have not recognized that actual selection and evolution was going to find a way to get back and we need to completely rethink how we’re going to use measures to control biological organisms … and we need to start thinking about them as natural resources … and change how we do business.

TED Talk: Five Special Plants from the Mascarene Islands

In this 14 minute TED talk given by Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, we are reminded of the important contribution that plants have to our health and to medicine. This requires habitat preservation of biodiversity. In this Anthropocene age it seems that natural habitats are constantly under threat.

“for every disease known to mankind there is a plant to cure it”

She shows us some humble plants which “hide surprising secrets” besides feeding us and giving us oxygen, telling us that there are 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world, the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean being one of them, including Madagascar.

“there is no such thing as a weed”

Gurib-Fakim discusses five plants: Benjoin, which has leaves of different shapes and sizes on a single plant; Psiadia arguta which has medicinal uses; Baobab, “the tree of life” for food security; the Resurrection plant from Africa, which can withstand up to 90 percent dehydration but then regenerate rapidly with water; and, Centella called a “weed”, which grows across the world in many habitats, and is used by cosmetic companies.

TED Talk by Nina Fedoroff on Global Food Production

This TED talk is all about food and global food security.

This 18-minute talk is by noted food system expert Nina Fedoroff, Pennsylvania State Professor and scientist. It begins with a discussion of the drivers behind affordability and food price swings. She discusses whether there are limits to feeding growing populations during climate change, and with depleting aquifers. In the last eight minutes of the talk, she discusses how we will be growing food in the future, a future in which she supports genetic modification as a tool to making food production more secure.