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Swine Flu: Another Factory Farmed Product

Swine Flu: Another Factory Farmed Product

Posted 15 May 2009   by Angie         Permalink | 11 Comments

Tags: swine flu, pigs, factory farming, veg, health

So over the past few weeks we have been warned of the deadly outbreak of "Swine Flu" in Mexico that is now spreading around the world. There has been much debate about whether we are treating the pandemic too seriously or not seriously enough, and more importantly whether it really came from pigs and if pork is safe to eat. The name was even officially changed from “Swine Flu” to “Influenza A (H1N1)” to try and re-assure consumers that eating pig products is safe. But if you are like me and countless others who have been writing to newspapers and reading up on the situation, I bet you've been remembering the panic when bird flu broke out and thinking "when will they get it, factory farming is a recipe for disaster!"

Where the Swine Flu outbreak started, in Mexico, is just 5 miles from an "industrial pig facility" which "processes" close to a million pigs a year and is jointly owned by the world's largest pig "processor", Smithfield Foods (Isn't it ridiculous that these places are referred to as "facilities" rather than "farms", why don't they just be totally honest and call them prisons?) (you can take a tour of this 'facility' with Sharon Churcher, here). Smithfield Foods says the outbreak was not a result of its facility and that none of its pigs have the virus. But Smithfield Foods have less than a splendid track record with hygiene and honesty.

Whether or not this particular facility was responsible for this outbreak, the question has to be asked, how can factory farms NOT inevitably spread disease?

There are hundreds of millions of pigs and chickens crammed in unnatural, stressful environments in these "facilities" all over the world. They are often fed antibiotics in their food to stop them from getting sick in these breading grounds for disease called factory farms. Frequent use of anti-biotics is KNOWN to result in super-bugs that become resistant to the drugs. The huge amounts of waste they produce is not treated the way human waste is, it is instead channeled into huge open-air ses-pits, or as the "facilities" like to refer to them, "lagoons". These lagoons attract large swarms of flies that feed off the untreated waste and then may fly to local communities. And of course, the health of communities living near factory farms can also be seriously affected (as a great report called the PEW Report discusses).

With all the warning signs - the hideous animal cruelty, the previous pandemic scares and the devastating environmental toll - we have every reason to be worried of a disease outbreak. And yet people are still encouraged to chow down on their pork chops and chicken nuggets. It seems we are too scared to face the awful predicament we have gotten ourselves (and the animals) into with factory farming.

I think Raph Brous summed it up pretty well in the Sydney Morning herald,

"Swine flu is a result of the inhumanity practiced by pig farmers who prioritise profits over animal welfare. People who eat pork products ignore that the pig industry severely harms the environment and the pigs.

"How sadly ironic that as humans abuse animals, forcing thousands of pigs and poultry into squalid factory farms, their viruses combine and evolve into new strains that teach us a deadly lesson about the everyday abuse of animals to satisfy human greed."

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Post a Comment   |   

tofupower tofupower 16 May 2009
I totally agree, I don't understand how people can be so ignorant!
On a lighter note, i was pleasantly amused by the message on the noticeboard at the front of my school: "Wash your hands, cover your mouth and don't blame the pigs"
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april-san april-san 17 May 2009
The media made a huge deal of swine flu when (luckily) it wasn't that bad, not many people actually got it. Now, when bird flu does the inevitable and goes pandemic, it will take a while before people take it seriously, and by then it will be too late. Everyone treats it like a joke, every time someone sneezes someone else says "Ahh, swine flu!" and laughs. The way it was publicised made a bad situation worse, b/c next time when bird flu (H5N1) hits, everyone will just think that it will be like swine flu, when it'll really be a lot worse.
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Shirley Shirley 22 May 2009
well said  chick
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_Matt _Matt 24 May 2009
this may be a REALLY ignorant question to some people but i'll ask it anyway. How come when over 3000 people die in Australia of flu every year it doesn't make the news but when a few die of swine flu around the world everyone worries?

sorry if it's an ignorant question  ashamed2
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april-san april-san 24 May 2009
it's because it's not new, it's not interesting, it's not something everyone will talk about and make the mass media tons of money and boost their ratings. sas and wrong as it is, it's old news.

it's like all those murders that happen out in Aboriginal communities that never get even get a mention on the news, while some pro sport player's girlfriend's controversial dress makes headlines.
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Angie Angie 24 May 2009
Hi Matt, it's not a really ignorant question, it's one everyone has been asking. I think there are a couple of answers. Firstly, whenever there is a new fatal strain of the influenza virus created i think the World Health Organisation goes on a big alert. There were several references in the news to the 1918 flu pandemic where a deadly new strain of flu claimed the lives of between 50-100 million people.
However, I believe  a lot of the global panic must be due to factory farming. First there was Bird Flu, which is still claiming human lives in Asia and had killed millions of birds. There have also been so many reports warning of the inevitability of disease outbreak in modern factory farming over the past ten years. But factory farming has become such an integral part of our global economies and culture so whenever there is a problem with it we try to patch it up rather than look at the root cause. Just imagine if thousands of Australians or Americans did die from Swine flu. I have big feeling everyone would be asking a LOT more questions about the sustainability of factory farming and its dangers!
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_Matt _Matt 24 May 2009
risk of pandemic, gotcha.

ty for the info happy When I joined Unleashed I always knew the effects factory farming had on cruelty to animals, climate change and poor health. But I never knew the effects it had on things like water shortages and the creation of super bugs - It's mind boggling that it's still allowed to continue. When I first read these blogs I was saying to myself, "As if we need ANOTHER reason to not eat animals... and ANOTHER... and ANOTHER." Seriously, mind boggling.  confused
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Teweesa! Teweesa! 25 May 2009
Thanks for the info. Now when another idiot comes up to me rattling on about how factory farming is 'proficient' and 'safer for humans' I can smack them in the face with it.
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_Matt _Matt 26 May 2009

"Oh really? Factory farms are safer for humans?"


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Jasmine Jasmine 3 June 2009
i think people r over exaggerating a bit too much
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_Matt _Matt 4 June 2009
I think we are underestimating it - i'm a little paranoid about most things.

>We don't know how this flu will fair in 'flu season.'
>Bird flu stil exists
>Pandemics have wiped out millions before. I think - I know, I'm paranoid - that the human race is always just one day away from an absolute wipe out. I mean, it's going to happen one day. Human won't be here forever, why should they be here next week?

Paranoid I know.  scared
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