firms and corrupt and greedy local governments had created a monster
that keeps on killing millions every year, and now will kill even
more, while wasting millions on Tamilflu and Vaccines.
Normal flu kills millions every year and they are incubated in large
farms such as in Mexico. Despite their assurances, witness accounts of
people nearby are much more reliable than any explanations given by
these biased firms.
The locals don't care what excuses these firms give, the fact is that
they keep on getting all sorts of flu every day of the year.
US link to Mexican swine flu
permalinke-mail story to a friendprint version
17 May, 2009, 22:45
While swine flu was born in rural Mexico, sufferers there claim it was
conceived in local US-owned factory farms. The pandemic may prove to
be the cost of ignoring warnings around intensive farming.
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An overpowering stench has long surrounded the village of La Gloria in
the arid Perote Valley, home to more than one million hogs. Besides
the smell, locals complain of sore throats and year-round flu, which
they blame on the industrial farms.
Locals say the pig farms' biodigesters – used to convert dead swine
into energy – often overfill. The leftover carcasses are then devoured
by packs of wild dogs.
Headaches and burning eyes can be so bad that local people to flee
from the acrid environment.
Scientists have traced the first cases of the swine flu pandemic to
this dry, wind-swept valley. On Tuesday (12th June), the World Health
Organization reported there had been more than 5,250 cases around the
world. Mexico has borne the brunt of the outbreak, with more than
2,000 infected including 56 confirmed fatalities.
Locals blame illness on US farm
Mexico's medical facilities have been stretched by the infection
dubbed "Mexican swine flu". Locals claim that the persistent illnesses
in the area are linked to the hog-producing subsidiary of an American
Smithfield Foods – the world's largest producer of pork – supports 16
farms in the area of the original outbreak. It uses a vertical
integration method of intensive farming. Thousands of pigs are packed
into barns, their waste flushed into open-air pits called lagoons.
"To the people of this community, what brought about this problem was
the pig farms," said Guillermo Franco Vazquez, the mayor of Perote.
Smithfield's subsidiary, Granjas Carroll – a joint venture with
Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico – rejects this, pointing to comments
by Mexican health officials that temperature changes, poor nutrition
and a lack of drinking water are to blame.
At its peak, 28% of the population of La Gloria was infected with
swine flu. While the health crisis appears to be abating, tensions
continue to rise between the poor neighboring communities and the
multi-national food producer.
In 2007, Perote Valley residents in a grass-roots organization called
Pueblos Unidos blockaded a road to prevent a Granjas Carroll pig farm
being built near La Gloria. Unusually, criminal charges were
subsequently pressed against five members of the group.
The conglomerate denies claims by local officials —including the
governor of the state of Veracruz – that Smithfield was behind the
Relations are so strained that Miguel Rolon Garcia, the state official
who signed the original agreement with Smithfield, will is refusing to
visit Perote, to "avoid the confrontation".
Link to face $1 billion legal test
Smithfield's responsibility for swine flu will be put to the test
after a billion dollar petition against the company was filed in the
US. Judy Trunnell died of the infection and her husband has sought
"wrongful death damages" against Smithfield. His lawyers will need to
establish a link between the "horrifically unsanitary conditions" at
the Mexican pig farms and the infection's spread.
There is no scientific consensus that a link will be established.
World Health Organization and other international teams are trying to
establish the source of the influenza.
However, there have long been warnings that intensive farming methods
can produce a hotbed for developing viruses.
Long-term fears of factory farming
In 2006, US National Institutes of Health (NIN) stated "because
concentrated animal feeding operations tend to concentrate large
numbers of animals close together, they facilitate rapid transmission
and mixing of viruses."
While the first confirmed case of swine flu was in Mexico, the
original strain may have emanated from north of the border.
GRAIN, an international, non-governmental agriculture organization,
reported: "We do not know where exactly this genetic recombination and
evolution took place, but the obvious place to start looking is in the
factory farms of Mexico and the US."
Last year, the Pew Research Center reported: "Factory farms are time-
bombs for global disease epidemics." The United Nations and European
Commission have both drawn attention to the risk of epidemics stemming
from factory farming.
If a link is established between the farms so loathed by the
inhabitants of Perote Valley and the global epidemic of swine flu,
pressure on the big business of factory farming will ratchet up.
Jonathan Stibbs for RT