Are Corporate Pig Farms Linked To Swine Flu?

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A Smithfield Foods farm could be linked to the outbreak.

Grist has more…

Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site.

On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 […]

Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.

Now, as anybody who has ever passed by a corporate pig farm will tell you, they’re awful, awful, places. And often, they have these open-pit lagoons of pig feces that literally just sit there and allow any type of nastiness to breed in it. That includes drug resistant strains of staph infection and other forms of super bacteria that literally feed on the medication that was once used to stop it. And too often these lagoons aren’t properly protected and the waste gets into rivers and other water supplies. Disgusting stuff.

And, by the way, if you think I’m picking on Smithfield Foods, I’m not. Their record is atrocious when it comes to waste management, and if it resulted in the current outbreak you can be sure there will be hell to pay when this all shakes out.

More as it develops…

  • Bobby McGill

    You make some great points, they are really awful places and seeming breeding places for disease.

    On a lighter note, you might get a kick out of this:

    great blog, keep it going.


  • Tico

    I’m from Iowa. Something people should know is that we have these farms in the U.S. too, and they are no safer. Hothouses for disease and dangerous experiments on the massive hog populations raised there. Unsafe meat, and unsafe conditions for people and the environment located nearby. Massive sewage lagoons with millions of gallons of hog feces and god knows what else in them, located foolishly close to wells which could contaminate the entire local water table in the event of a major manure spill. It is long past time the USDA and various health agencies get after these meat producers for the unsafe practices they employ which endanger us all. I’m an enthusiastic meat-eater and Midwestern farm supporter, but this has all the markers of something about to go terribly wrong.

  • Michaelc

    There is no more powerful persuader for becoming vegetarian than to see the conditions that the animals you eat are raised in. 9 years ago I drove through the Texas panhandle which is a giant field of manure with millions of cattle living on top of it. Coincidentally I have also not eaten beef in 9 years, and just the memory of that smell makes me feel a little nauseous. Since then I have also seen how chickens and pigs are raised and that is even worse than the cattle.