Increasing links between swine flu and intensive piggeries
It was suspected to be the case, but now evidence is increasing of a direct link between the swine flu virus and intensive piggeries.
The Independent has reported on research conducted by Columbia University that has shown the H1N1 swine flu virus is not a new emergence of a triple human-swine-bird flu virus as previously thought, but rather a slight variant on a virus that has appeared before, and one that evolved in an immense factory farm in North Carolina.
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The report describes how modern day intensive piggeries are the perfect environment for virus mutation and transmission. Housed in their thousands, and crammed into tiny stalls where they can barely move, pigs raised in these systems have severely compromised immune systems. They survive in the midst of their own waste where viruses can combine time and again, and pigs can repeatedly infect each other. Scientists are now concurring that this artificial environment is driving the evolution of new diseases.
The Independent reports that the detailed, on-the-ground studies of Dr Silbergeld, Professor of Health Sciences at John Hopkins University have led her to conclude that there is “very much a link from factory farms to the new, more powerful forms of flu we are experiencing.” She continues that “Factory farms are not biosecure at all. People are going in and out all the time. If you stand a few miles down-wind from a factory farm, you can pick up the pathogens easily.”
The article further notes the dramatic increase in new viruses in the past decade, concurrent with booming factory farms. It states the number of pigs in American factory farms increased from 10% to 72% between 1994 and 2001, while at the same time swine flu went super-charged after being stable since 1918. In 2003, with concerns heightening, the American Public Health Association called for a moratorium on factory farming.
“Policy makers and the agricultural industry have repeatedly ignored the immense animal cruelty that is played out every single day in intensive farms around the world,” said Verna Simpson, HSI Director. “Now that the risks to human health and safety are so obvious, the foul nature of these systems can no longer be disregarded.”
Earlier this year, Humane Society International submitted an application to Food Standards Australia New Zealand for a nationally consistent and mandatory labelling scheme for animal-derived food products. The application was rejected, largely because FSANZ determined that the issue was one of animal welfare, not public safety.
New research into the links between factory farming and human health is comprehensively refuting this position.
HSI will be resubmitting the application later this year.