Stop blaming the pig for the swine flu. Blame the industry. Blame the government for lack of regulations. Black the government for not responding to the complaints of a low-income community.
Experts have been warning for years that the rise of large-scale factory farms in North America has created the perfect breeding grounds for the emergence and spread of new highly-virulent strains of influenza. “Because concentrated animal feeding operations tend to concentrate large numbers of animals close together, they facilitate rapid transmission and mixing of viruses,” said scientists from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2006. Three years earlier, Science Magazine warned that swine flu was on a new evolutionary “fast track” due to the increasing size of factory farms and the widespread use of vaccines in these operations. It’s the same story with bird flu. The crowded and unsanitary conditions of the farms make it possible for the virus to recombine and take on new forms very easily. Once this happens, the centralised nature of the industry ensures that the disease gets carried far and wide, whether by feces, feed, water or even the boots of workers. Yet, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “no formal national surveillance system exists to determine what viruses are prevalent in the US swine population.” The same is true of Mexico.
Another thing we know about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico is that the community of La Gloria in the state of Veracruz was trying to get authorities to respond to a vicious outbreak of a strange respiratory disease affecting them over the past months. The residents are adamant that the disease is linked to pollution from the big pig farm that was recently set up in the community by Granja Carroll, a subsidiary of the US company Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer.
Who else to blame? The consumer who chooses to purchase from factory-farm production rather from (if available) a local, organic, small farm