Swine Flu – what to do?
Posted by deborahmclaren on April 30, 2009
Ban Factory Farms That Are Creating and Spreading Deadly Flu
The recent swine flu outbreak has killed over 150 people and infected thousands. Send a letter to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack asking them to:
Immediately suspend the operation of factory farms or CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) in the U.S. as a major threat to public health and safety.
* Initiate a criminal investigation of Smithfield Foods and other major CAFOs.
* Ban the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.
Despite years of warnings by public interest organizations such as the Organic Consumers Association and the Humane Society of the U.S., new evidence indicates drugged-out animals on intensive confinement factory farms are incubating deadly viruses that could set off a deadly epidemic.
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 150 people in Mexico, infecting thousands, and has spread to over a dozen countries, including the United States.
The World Health Organization warned early this week that the outbreak could reach global pandemic levels and raised the threat level to 4 (with 6 being the highest panedemic alert level). 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 ($11 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 Vera Cruz, 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.
CAFOs, such as Smithfield, feed pigs massive amounts of antibiotics, resulting in swine incubating and spreading antibiotic-resistant pathogens. These antibiotic-resistant pathogens are 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.
Please take action today.