Earlier this week I went to the doctor for my routine annual physical. Because we’ve known each other for years, and he’s aware that my job includes a great deal of international travel, he started us off with the usual small talk. “Where’ve you been recently?” “Mexico and Nicaragua,” I responded. Suddenly he seemed a bit more interested, “really, when were you in Mexico?” “In April.” “How you feeling?” I told him that actually, I had been sick awhile back, but nothing too serious, no fever; just a sore throat, a lot of achiness and exhaustion. I told him that I felt like I couldn’t move for 4 days – never left the house even. But that was awhile back, no big deal really (other than the fact that I missed a friend’s 50th birthday celebration on Cape Cod and was feeling really badly about that!)
He asked a few more questions and then told me that most likely I had had Swine Flu. I had to laugh… I’ve been trying to pay as little attention to the Swine Flu hype as possible. Clearly, I’m as horrified by the deaths as anyone, and can’t imagine what it’s been like in Mexico these past weeks. In particular, I feel for the vendors and other folks whose economic survival is dependent on being able to get around the streets of the city and sell their wares. I can’t imagine how the small business owners, who rely on a steady stream of tourists, workers, and daily consumer circulation to feed their own families, have handled the officially sanctioned public shutdown.
But when the papers report headlines such as “1400 people world-wide have gotten sick from the Swine Flu (sorry the H1N1 Virus), it’s hard to get myself riled up. People get sick from the flu and all sorts of things all the time. For that matter, there are statistics that talk about how many people die every hour, even every second, from malnutrition. I have no statistics at my fingertips, but how many people have died, and continue to suffer, from prolonged exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals pushed on them by Monsanto, Cargill, ADM and the likes? You get my point.
Last week I was in DC and as I was getting my belongings out of my cab to get my flight, the cab driver handed me a 6-page article he had lying in his trunk. “Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms”, by William Engdahl, from Financial Sense Editorials. I had never read anything by this author or from this news source, but there I was on a plane with this article in my lap that my cab driver wanted me to read… So I did. I had been just starting to hear these stories about Smithfield’s Farm in Veracruz, Mexico where many people are now suspecting the Swine Flu originated. I know the rumors that Donald Rumsfeld owns stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that held exclusive world patent rights to Tamiflu, the flu virus. But wherein lies the truth?
Unfortunately, I haven’t done my homework enough to offer any educated opinions – so I’ll spare you one more person’s suspicions and opinions about the way in which the media has chosen to report this story.
For now, I’ll just leave you with a quote I found in today’s on-line issue of Organic Bytes from the Organic Consumer Association. There’s a link to more information about the subject of Swine Flu and Factory Farms. Regardless of the specifics about this particular outbreak, it’s my opinion that we should be demanding an immediate halt to factory farms which we know are inhumane, lead to unhealthy food, cause environmental degradation, and are a breeding ground for illness.
Of course, there’s a wealth of information and articles you can find to learn more about this pandemic in particular and the different analyses and theories. Let us know what you think!
“If you wanted to create global pandemics, you’d build as many of these factory farms as possible. That’s why the development of swine flu isn’t a surprise to those in the public health community. In 2003, the American Public Health Association–the oldest and largest in world–called for a moratorium of factory farming because they saw something like this would happen. It may take something as serious as a pandemic to make us realize the real cost of factory farming.”
Dr. Michael Greger, Humane Society of the U.S. — Learn More