CAFO Calumny

Today’s NYT reports that the pork industry is incensed at the public relations drubbing their industry has taken as a result of the swine flu outbreak.  The pork industry insists that it should be called something else.  Tom Harkin has decided to call the virus the “so called” swine flu.  Meanwhile, a number of countries, including the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Ecuador have banned the importation of U.S. pig products.

Now, there is no reported case of anyone contracting the disease through consuming pig products and it is highly unlikely that any such transmission would occur.  It would seem that the millions of people who are refusing to buy pork because they’re scared of contracting the flu are misguided and acting out of a type of reactionary ignorance that I usually abhor and which has led to some horrendously pernicious lawmaking.  So, I confess that the downturn in pork consumption connected with this outbreak does give me a moment of pause.

There; I’m over it now.  When it comes to factory farming, I’m a brutal instrumentalist.  Any reason that people want to use to help them stop eating factory farmed pig meat works just fine by me.

David Cassuto

Hog CAFOs and the Swine Flu Outbreak — You Do the Math

hogssm21 Flying below the media radar (at least in the United States) is an apparent link between a Smithfield Farms hog confinement facility in Veracruz, Mexico and the swine flu outbreak.  Although it has received little attention here, the issue has gotten significant coverage in Mexico.

Initial reports linked the disease’s vector to flies that reproduce in contaminated pig waste although that theory apparently does not withstand close scrutiny.  Others link it to a vicious cycle of wild ducks drinking contaminated water from sewage lagoons, landing and excreting in  “farmed” fish ponds, whose water then gets drunk by confined chickens,whose feces gets mixed into the feed to confined pigs, who then excrete the contaminants back into the sewage lagoons,which then gets drunk by the ducks, ad infinitum.

Even if it turns out that Smithfield’s facility did not spawn the virus, however, that conclusion would change little.  Adding massive confinement facilities with poor sanitation to an impoverished rural community with poor infrastructure is a recipe for disaster.  If not now then soon.

Hat tip to Daily Kos for breaking the story.  See also the OC Progressive.

David Cassuto