The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Swine Flu:
The Super-Business Super-Virus

Oct 26, 2009

The H1N1 virus or swine flu first showed up in Mexico, where it led to an epidemic of viral respiratory disease in the Veracruz region, near a giant industrial hog feedlot.

In fact, one the characteristics of flu viruses is that they infect people, hogs and certain birds (the bird flu of 2004). And hogs and birds are real melting pots recombining different flu viruses. This means it’s extremely important that there be strict hygienic conditions when birds and hogs are raised. There can’t be overcrowding, in order to avoid any eventual transmission to people.

The people living near the Mexican hog farm came down with many respiratory diseases and asked for a health investigation. Instead, the Mexican authorities convicted them of defamation and slapped heavy fines on them. Then, an investigation finally was carried out, showing that the pigs were being raised under outrageously unsanitary conditions. Mass graves of hogs clearly dead from the flu were found. The virus could have been detected when it still was confined to hogs, and its passage to humans could have been avoided. But nothing was done! Company executives stonewalled, denying any connection between their livestock factory and the epidemic, despite all the evidence.

The feedlot operator is Smithfield Foods, one the biggest U.S. agribusiness companies, and the biggest hog producer in the world. The corporation wasn’t bothered by either the conditions under which it raised the hogs, the quality of the meat produced or the health of the people affected. The only thing that counted was profitability.