Since the dawn of American ‘agribusiness,’ a project initiated with funding by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1950’s to turn farming into a pure profit maximization business, US pig or hog production has been transformed into a highly efficient, mass production industrialized enterprise from birth to slaughter. Pigs are caged in what are called Factory Farms, industrial concentrations which are run with the efficiency of a Dachau or Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They are all conceived by artificial insemination and once born, are regularly injected with antibiotics, not because of illnesses which abound in the hyper-crowded growing pens, but in order to make them grow and add weight faster. Turn around time to slaughter is a profit factor of highest priority. The entire operation is vertically integrated from conception to slaughter to transport distribution to supermarket. Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM) happens to be such a Factory Farm concentration facility for hogs. In 2008 they produced almost one million factory hogs, 950,000 according to their own statistics. GCM is a joint venture operation owned 50% by the world’s largest pig producing industrial company, Smithfield Foods of Virginia.5 The pigs are grown in a tiny rural area of Mexico, a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and primarily trucked across the border to supermarkets in the USA, under the Smithfields’ family of labels. Most American consumers have no idea where the meat was raised. Now the story becomes interesting. Manure Lagoons and other playing fields The Times of London interviewed the mother of 4-year-old Edgar Hernandez of La Gloria in Veracruz, the location of the giant Smithfield Foods hog production facility. Their local reporter notes, ‘Edgar Hernández plays among the dogs and goats that roam through the streets, seemingly unaware that the swine flu he contracted a few weeks ago — the first known case — has almost brought his country to a standstill and put the rest of the world on alert. ‘I feel great,’ the five-year-old boy said. ‘But I had a headache and a sore throat and a fever for a while. I had to lay down in bed.’’ The reporters add, ‘It was confirmed on Monday (April 27 2009-w.e.) that Edgar was the first known sufferer of swine flu, a revelation that has put La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and ‘manure lagoons’ at the centre of a global race to find how this new and deadly strain of swine flu emerged.’ 6 That’s quite interesting. They speak of ‘La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and ‘manure lagoons.’’ Presumably the manure lagoons around the LaGloria factory pig farm of Smithfield Foods are the waste dumping place for the feces and urine waste from at least 950,000 pigs a year that pass through the facility. The Smithfield’s Mexico joint venture, Norson, states that alone they slaughter 2,300 pigs daily. That’s a lot. It gives an idea of the volumes of pig waste involved in the concentration facility at La Gloria. Significantly, according to the Times reporters, ‘residents of La Gloria have been complaining since March that the odour from Granjas Carroll’s pig waste was causing severe respiratory infections. They held a demonstration this month at which they carried signs of pigs crossed with an X and marked with the word peligro (danger).’7 There have been calls to exhume the bodies of the children who died of pneumonia so that they could be tested. The state legislature of Veracruz has demanded that Smithfield’s Granjas Carroll release documents about its waste-handling practices. Smithfield Foods reportedly declined to comment on the request, saying that it would ‘not respond to rumours.’8 A research compilation by Ed Harris reported, ‘According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to ‘flu.’ However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.’9 That would imply that the entire Swine Flu scare might have originated from the PR spin doctors of the world’s largest industrial pig factory farm operation, Smithfield Foods. The Vera Cruz-based newspaper La Marcha blames Smithfield’s Granjos Carroll for the outbreak, highlighting inadequate treatment of massive quantities of animal waste from hog production.10 Understandably the company is perhaps more than a bit uncomfortable with the sudden attention. The company, which supplies the McDonald’s and Subway fast-food chains, was fined $12.3 million in the United States 1997 for violating the Clean Water Act. Perhaps they are in a remote tiny Mexican rural area enjoying a relatively lax regulatory climate where they need not worry about being cited for violations of any Clean Water Act. Factory Farms as toxic concentrations At the very least the driving force for giant industrial agribusiness outsourcing of facilities to third world sites such as Veracruz, Mexico has more to do with further cost reduction and lack of health and safety scrutiny than it does with improving the health and safety quality of the food end product. It has been widely documented and subject of US Congressional reports that large-scale indoor animal production facilities such as that of Granjos Carroll are notorious breeding grounds for toxic pathogens. A recent report by the US Pew Foundation in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health notes, ‘the method of producing food animals in the United States has changed from the extensive system of small and medium-sized farms owned by a single family to a system of large, intensive operations where the animals are housed in large numbers in enclosed structures that resemble industrial buildings more than they do a traditional barn. That 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. 11 The Pew study notes, ‘The diversified, independent, family-owned farms of 40 years ago that produced a variety of crops and a few animals are disappearing as an economic entity, replaced by much larger, and often highly leveraged, farm factories. The animals that many of these farms produce are owned by the meat packing companies from the time they are born or hatched right through their arrival at the processing plant and from there to market.’ 12 The study emphasizes that application of ‘untreated animal waste on cropland can contribute to excessive nutrient loading, contaminate surface waters, and stimulate bacteria and algal growth and subsequent reductions in dissolved oxygen concentrations in surface waters.’13 That is where the real investigation ought to begin, with the health and sanitary dangers of the industrial factory pig farms like the one at Perote in Veracruz. The media spread of panic-mongering reports of every person in the world who happens to contract ‘symptoms’ which vaguely resemble flu or even Swine Flu and the statements to date of authorities such as WHO or CDC are far from conducive to a rational scientific investigation.. to be continued Please read the board rules. You can't copy/paste entire articles, plus you need a link. Thanks!