For Immediate Release
Organic Consumers Association & Via Organica Demand Factory Farms Spreading Deadly Swine Flu be Shut Down
Washington, DC, USA & San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico - In light of news reports
that the swine flu outbreak may have begun in La Gloria, a town in
Veracruz, Mexico, near a cluster of factory farms co-owned by
Smithfield Foods, the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexican
counterpart, Via Organica, want Smithfield's North American operations
shut down until their lagoons of pig feces -- where viruses can reside
for 3 to 6 months -- are tested and there is a plan for dealing with
infected waste. The Associated Press reported today that a farm manager
at Granjas Carroll de Mexico, Smithfield's Veracruz partner, said no
one from the government has inspected his farm (18 warehouses holding
15,000 of Granjas Carrol's 950,000 hogs) for swine flu.
interest organizations such as the Organic Consumers Association and
the Humane Society of the U.S. have warned for years that drugged-out
animals on intensive confinement factory farms are incubating deadly
viruses that could set off a deadly epidemic.
The swine flu, a
dangerous and rapidly spreading strain of influenza, which combines
genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have
not seen before, has killed over 152 people in Mexico (as of April 24,
2009), infected thousands, and spread to over a dozen countries,
including the United States. There were even concerns that President
Obama himself might have been exposed to the disease when he toured a
Mexican museum with an archaologist, Felipe Solis, who died the next
day of flu-like symptoms. (Mexican and American officials now say the
death was unrelated to swine flu.)
The World Health
Organization is warning that the outbreak could reach global pandemic
levels. The last major global pandemic, the 1918 flu epidemic, killed
20-50 million people.
Despite company denials, a number of
Mexican and U.S. news outlets are pointing to Virginia-based Smithfield
Foods, the world's largest pig producer ($12 billion in annual sales),
as a likely source of the deadly outbreak. Smithfield sells pork and
operates massive hog-raising operations in 40 nations, including
Perote, Mexico, in the state of Veracruz, where the outbreak
originated. For months, local residents and workers in Mexico have
complained of pollution, contamination, and illnesses from the
Smithfield plant. For years, Smithfield has been criticized in the
United States for polluting rural communities, endangering public
health, and exploiting workers and farmers.
Factory farms, such
as Smithfield, dose pigs with massive amounts of antibiotics and
vaccines, resulting in swine incubating and spreading
antibiotic-resistant pathogens and mutated viruses. This is considered
a major human health hazard by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization. Given these serious public health concerns, a number of
health and safety organizations have called for limits or bans on the
use of antibiotics in livestock farming including the American Public
Health Association, American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases
Society of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Union
of Concerned Scientists. .
Organic Consumers Association and
Via Organica are calling on their hundreds of thousands of members in
the US and Mexico to contact Mexican President Calderon and his
Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cardenas and US President Obama and his
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and urge them to:
ban Confined Animal Feeding Operations (hog, beef, and chicken factory
farms) across the United States and end the dangerous practice of
feeding antibiotics to farm animals.
-Initiate a criminal
investigation of Smithfield Foods and other major factory farms that
could be a source of disease outbreaks.
Learn more at Organic Consumers Association's Swine and Bird Flu Center: http://www.organicconsumers.
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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.