Today’s news is ablaze with stories about the recent swine flu outbreak, an outbreak that may have been fully preventable through the use of green farming practices. At the time I write this post, 50 cases of swine
flu have been reported in the US alone, with one death attributable to the mutated virus. Although most cases have been mild, the fear factor alone is leading to school closures and cancelled vacations across the world.
Could this have been prevented? In my opinion, yes. Pig farmers today are more concerned about profit dollars and pounds of pork produced than the quality of the meat. This means pigs are kept in tight quarters, creating an excellent breeding ground for viruses as well as virus mutation. Flys and other insects that thrive in pig excrement provide a ready medium for transmission of these new forms of “bugs”, completing the cycle.
There is considerable speculation on the web that this new form of virus originated in the pig farms owned by Smithfield Farms in Perote, Mexico, which is where the disease was first spotted. Over 950,000 pigs are raised in these facilities. There is no way of proving culpability, of course, but it stands to reason that free range pig farming (and sustainable farming of other food animals), provides a healthier alternative to overpopulated pig “tenements”.
But until we stop “hogging” profit dollars and see the greener picture, health risks will continue to rise. I plan to wash my hands often.