Will the Swine Flu Get the Same Response as the Financial Crisis – Protect the Status Quo without Really Changing Anything?

Even though we’ve suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Obama, Summers and Geithner are not really changing anything, but are instead doing everything they can to keep the status quo intact. Instead of breaking up the insolvent banks in an orderly fashion, the “too big to fail” financial players are being allowed to keep on gambling using our money.

Is the same thing happening with swine flu and industrial meat facilities?

As William Engdahl writes:

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.

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.’

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.’…

Avian Flu was traced back to huge chicken factory farms in Thailand and other parts of Asia whose products were shipped across the world. Instead of a serious investigation into the sanitary conditions of those chicken factory farms, the Bush Administration and WHO blamed ‘free-roaming chickens’ on small family farms, a move that had devastating economic consequences to the farmers whose chickens were being raised in the most sanitary natural conditions. Tyson Foods of Arkansas and CG Group of Thailand reportedly smiled all the way to the bank.

(The Pew Study is called The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm, and can be read here: http://www.ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf)

Is Engdahl right that industrial meat facilities are the source of most modern large-scale disease outbreaks? I don’t know (I’m not an epidemiologist), although my hunch is that he is right.

But the one thing that is certain is that these facilities need to immediately be subject to rigorous scrutiny to get to the bottom of this.

Update: This essay shows that Engdahl probably is right.

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