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Capitalist swine!

28 April 2009

David Kirby, the health journalist who has worked in Mexico as a reporter,  has information that fleshes out earlier reports in The Guardian on a probable “patient zero” for the flu outbreak.

Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova announced Monday evening that officials have identified who they believe to be the earliest known case of the swine flu outbreak: A four-year-old boy in the village of La Gloria, Veracruz, near the huge Granjas Carroll hog operation, which is co-owned by Smithfield Foods of Virginia. But Mexican hog industry leaders and the Governor of Veracruz State argued that the virus originated in China — and passed through the United States before reaching Mexico.

“We are very comfortable that our pork is safe,” Smithfield president and chief executive Larry Pope told the [Wall Street Journal]…

And according to El Universal newspaper, officials at Granjas Carroll México are now claiming that “the virus is of Eurasian origin — and the first cases were found in the United States, making Mexico the receptor nation, more than the generator, of this influenza.” No evidence was published to back up that claim, which runs contrary to statements made by nearly all international public health officials.

Also reported in the Mexican press today, Smithfield and Granjas Carroll have agreed to adopt government recommendations to “begin reinforcing its biosecurity measures to prevent workers and animals from being infected, the newspaper Reforma said.

Reforma also reported that Villagers in La Gloria are being threatened, harassed and even jailed for speaking out against the hog giant.

I wonder why, if the flu came from China via the United States, Smithfield suddenly agreed to “begin reinforcing its biosecurity measures…”

I’d just point out — sotto voce — that Reforma is not a flaming leftist paper like Jornada, that goes looking for rural protests and corporate malfeasance.  Rather, it’s a staid, pro-big business paper more like a U.S. “mainstream” paper than anything else.  I’d trust Reforma on this…  where there’s smoke… they’re likely to be pork roast.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 April 2009 9:07 am

    Kirby’s credentials have been challenged at comment 13 here:

  2. 28 April 2009 12:29 pm

    Of course, you and I are subject to the same criticism… that we’re popularizers of a specialized field of study, and not well funded (wish we were!).

    I don’t know if reporting that the Veracruz farm is suspected of being the originating source for the illness (and that lab studies are being done to confirm this, though right now all the signs point in that direction) is falling for a conspiracy theory.

    I don’t see a conspiracy anyway. Just a convergence of conditions that make Carroll a plausible source of infection.

  3. 28 April 2009 12:35 pm

    I agree with you. Kirby is hardly the only person saying these things, of course. I am naturally suspicious of large industries (tobacco comes to mind) that assert that they are doing everything necessary to meet public health needs, etc.

    As I mentioned on a post, I have heard complaints about Carroll Farms.

  4. 28 April 2009 12:36 pm

    Just brought it up because there are other sources saying the same or similar….On Grist, for example

    • 28 April 2009 12:51 pm

      Of course. Otto at Inca Kola uses the Times of London as his source on the same story, so it’s not just the “enviro-kooks” like us who are on the trail. Even the financial press has started writing about this.

      Still, you and I deserve more funding 🙂

  5. 28 April 2009 12:58 pm

    You’re of course right. I’ve got pretty hasty with my commenting. Doing an index…would rather blog. Or hike, or whatever. AM giving short shrift to everything.


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