the cause of swine flu

I was going to avoid discussing the swine flu since everyone has clearly gotten enough of the media frenzy. I haven't seen any of the media coverage on it, but I doubt they are investigating the cause of the phenomenon. Organic Consumers Association explains how factory farming around the world creates the perfect situation for viruses like these to mutate:

Experts have been warning for years that the rise of large-scale factory farms in North America has created the perfect breeding grounds for the emergence and spread of new highly-virulent strains of influenza. "Because concentrated animal feeding operations tend to concentrate large numbers of animals close together, they facilitate rapid transmission and mixing of viruses," said scientists from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2006.


It's the same story with bird flu. The crowded and unsanitary conditions of the farms make it possible for the virus to recombine and take on new forms very easily. Once this happens, the centralised nature of the industry ensures that the disease gets carried far and wide, whether by feces, feed, water or even the boots of workers.

The proximity of factory pig farms to factory poultry farms increase the risk of viral mutation and recombination to deadlier strains. This recent strain is believed to have started in a subsidy of Smithfield farms, the worlds largest pork producer. These companies use their power and money to cover these things up.

A couple of years ago in Romania, Smithfield refused to let local authorities enter its pig farms after residents complained of the stench coming from hundreds of dead corpses of pigs left rotting for days at the farms. "Our doctors have not had access to the American [company's] farms to effect routine inspections," said Csaba Daroczi, assistant director at the Timisoara Hygiene and Veterinary Authority. "Every time they tried, they were pushed away by the guards. Smithfield proposed that we sign an agreement that would oblige us to warn them three days before each inspection." Eventually, it emerged that Smithfield had been concealing a major outbreak of classical swine fever on its Romanian farms.

There is also the fact that pharmaceutical companies benefit from these situations. The U.S. government has allowed antivirals such as Tamiflu and Relaxin to be used more widely on flu sufferers. The article has many citations and links for additional information.

The WHO and governments have failed to regulate factory farming and the problems they have caused. In addition to these outbreaks, the animals are never humanely treated and are injected with antibiotics and other chemicals that are bad for your health. It's up to us to make a stand. Tell President Obama and Secretary Tom Vilsack investigate Smithfield close down factory farms.

UPDATE: Scientists have traced the current swine flu to a strain that emerged on U.S. factory farms in 1998.

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