05 May, 2009

Swine flu: investigate and regulate

No-one yet knows whether swine flu will become a global pandemic, but it is becoming clear where it came from – most likely a giant pig factory farm run by an American multinational corporation in Veracruz, Mexico.(1)

These factory farms are disgusting and dangerous, and they're rapidly multiplying. Thousands of pigs are brutally crammed into dirty warehouses and sprayed with a cocktail of drugs -- posing a health risk to more than just our food -- they are the perfect conditions to breed dangerous new viruses like swine flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) must investigate and develop regulations for these farms to protect global health.

Big agrobusiness will try to obstruct and scuttle any attempts at reform, so we need a massive outcry that health authorities can't ignore. Sign the petition below for investigation and regulation of factory farms and we will deliver it with a herd of cardboard pigs to the WHO. For every 100 petition signatures we will add a pig to the herd, sign below and forward this email to friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/swine_flu_pandemic

Last week the flu was all that we talked about -- Mexico has been nearly paralysed and across the world leaders halted air travel, banned pork imports and initiated drastic controls to mitigate the spreading virus. As the threat shows signs of subsiding the question becomes where it came from and how we stop another outbreak.

Smithfield Corporation, the largest pig producer in the world whose farm is being fingered as the source of the H1N1 outbreak, denies any connection between their pigs and the flu and Agro business worldwide pays huge sums of money for research to argue that biosafety is ensured in industrial hog production. But the WHO has been saying for years that 'a new pandemic is inevitable'(2) and experts from the European Commission and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have warned that the rapid move from small holdings to industrial pig production is in fact increasing the risk of development and transmission of disease epidemics. (3)

Studies abound of the horrific conditions endured by pigs in concentrated large-scale operations, and the devastating economic impact on small farmer communities of bloated large-scale operations.(4) Smithfield itself has already been fined $12.6m and is currently under another federal investigation in the US for toxic environmental damage from pig excrement lakes.(5)

But even with all of this damaging evidence, a combination of increased global meat consumption and a powerful industry motivated by profit at the cost of human health, means that instead of being shut down - these sickening factory farm operations are propagating around the world and we are subsidising them (6). In the wake of this swine flu threat, let's hold industrial pig producers to account. Sign the petition for investigation and regulation:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/swine_flu_pandemic

If we resolve this global health crisis boldly by reassessing our food consumption and production, and urgently calling for an inquiry into the impact of factory farms on human health, we could put in place tough farm practice rules that will save the global population from future animal borne lethal pandemics.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/swine_flu_pandemic

(1) Reports on the link between the Mexican factory farm and the flu:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/for-la-gloria-the-stench-of-blame-is-from-pig-factories-1675809.html

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-fg-mexico-flu28-2009apr28,0,1701782.story

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=can-swine-flu-be-blamed-on-industri-09-05-01

(2) WHO pandemic information

http://www.euro.who.int/influenza/20080618_19

(3) FAO report and CIWF press release citing European Commission Study on the risks of industrial farming
FAO and CIWF

(4) CIWF and PETA video reports of the disgusting conditions for animals in factory farms and the disease ridden manure swamps:
CIWF and PETA

(5) Reports on Smithfield's animal welfare and environmental damage

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/for-la-gloria-the-stench-of-blame-is-from-pig-factories-1675809.html

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/press/releases/new-report-highlights-the-trouble-with-smithfield-article03132008

http://avaazimages.s3.amazonaws.com/SmithfieldJan08.pdf

(6) Reports on UK tax payers subsidising factory farms

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/5225298/Taxpayers-forking-out-700-million-for-factory-farming-in-England.html


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Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

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