Swine Flu and Factory Farms

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Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Swine Flu and Factory Farms

WASHINGTON - ROBERT WALLACE
Wallace is visiting professor in the department of geography at the University of Minnesota and author of the forthcoming book Farming Human Pathogens: Ecological Resilience and Evolutionary Process. He write a blog called "Farming Pathogens: Disease in a world of our own making."

His most recent piece is "The NAFTA Flu," available at his web page: farmingpathogens.wordpress.com.

He writes of the name "swine flu": "It detracts from an obvious point: pigs have very little to do with how influenza emerges. They didn't organize themselves into cities of thousands of immuno-compromised pigs. They didn't artificially select out the genetic variation that could have helped reduce the transmission rates at which the most virulent influenza strains spread. They weren't organized into livestock ghettos alongside thousands of industrial poultry. They don’t ship themselves thousands of miles by truck, train or air. Pigs do not naturally fly.

"The onus must be placed on the decisions we humans made to organize them this way. And when we say 'we,' let's be clear, we're talking how agribusinesses have organized pigs and poultry. ...

"The North American Free Trade Agreement, pushed by Bill Clinton in 1993 and approved by a bipartisan Congress, reduced trade barriers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Products could now be marketed across the three countries without levies that favored domestic industries. The agreement also allowed companies to purchase and consolidate businesses in other member countries. ...

"Where the housing bubble and banking collapse mark the aftermath of financial deregulation, H1N1 is only one of several pathogens that now track neoliberalism's effects on global health."

Background: For an interview with Wallace on Democracy Now, see here.

For additional background, see from The Real News, "Agri-biz at root of swine flu?".

Also see "The Meatrix," an animated film about factory farming, alson on YouTube.

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