Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Stop blaming Mexico

This just in. Scientists have traced swine flu (now known as H1N1) to a strain found in U.S. factory farms in 1998, when it mutated and spread at a rapid pace. Despite expert warning at the time that the virus could develop to infect humans, the pork industry has continued to relinquish itself from blame saying "swine flu" is a misnomer.

Raul Rabadan of Comunbia University's biomedical department released information tracing the gene to the H1N2 and H1N3 viruses isolated in 1998. The virus has killed 176 people so far and is thoroughly disrupting the daily operations of many nations, as China begins to quarantine Mexicans and culture feuds erupt in Egypt over pig culling.

Bob Martin, former executive director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Animal Farm Production criticized the workings of confined animal feeding operations, calling them "super-incubators for viruses."

The Pew Foundation report described the historical changes in the method of meat production in the U.S. from the small family-owned farms to intensive confinement systems. The report says, "[T]hat change has happened primarily out of view of consumers but has come at a cost to the environment and a negative impact on public health, rural communities, and the health and well-being of the animals themselves."

It'll be interesting to see how the pork industry's PR department deals with its forthcoming criticism.

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