No matter what you want to call it, “swine flu” or “H1N1 influenza” is now in Colorado.
Local pork producers are working hard to spread the word that their product is safe to eat, but at the same time the Pew Environment Group is calling attention to their study from last year on animal health and living conditions on industrial farms, which warned of just such an outbreak.
Bob Martin, senior officer at Pew, says the fast-moving new strain of flu was not a surprise.
“It’s a little bit frustrating when you issue a report and nothing happens, and then the situation that you fear comes to fruition. We considered it not a matter of if, but when it would happen. It’s tragic.”
Martin says the nature of industrial farming means health scares will continue.
“I think we have to change our food animal production system, or this will just keep happening. The system itself is sick, and it’s a little bit like treating a disease symptom without treating the cause of the disease.”
Martin says while there may be no danger in eating pork, it’s still important that industrial farm workers get checked for the virus.
“There should be regular testing of CAFO workers or the people working in these industrial hog and poultry facilities to make sure that they’re not taking the virus into the community.”
The Pew report says crowded conditions make industrial farms breeding grounds for new viruses and bacteria that can easily be spread to humans.
The owner of the facility in Mexico that’s been pointed to in this outbreak says it’s impossible the virus came from its operation because testing shows the animals are virus-free.
The Pew report also notes that irrigation for the feed that keeps industrial farm operations going has already depleted one of the main aquifers beneath eastern Colorado by half.
The Pew report is online at www.ncifap.org.Print This Post