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(Originally posted at Facing South)

Writing about swine flu last week, we observed that massive hog farms like those clustered near the outbreak's epicenter in the Mexican state of Veracruz "can act as a vector for environmental injustice," and pointed to studies done in North Carolina -- the nation's second-biggest producer of hogs after Iowa -- that found such farms put nearby residents at risk of serious health problems and tend to be concentrated in communities with high poverty rates and a high percentage of racial minorities.

As it turns out, there's a more direct connection between the current swine flu outbreak and North Carolina: Scientists working to understand the genetic makeup of the H1N1 virus that causes the disease have linked it to a virus behind a 1998 swine flu outbreak at an industrial hog farm in Sampson County, North Carolina's leading hog producer.

The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported that a virus related to the current outbreak was first identified a decade ago at a farm in the eastern North Carolina county. The N&O cited Raul Rabadan, a Columbia University scientist who's studying the new virus's genetics:

"This virus was found in pigs here in the United States," Rabadan said in an interview. "They were getting sick in 1998. It became a swine virus."

It spread among pregnant sows in Newton Grove, N.C., causing them to abort their litters. The virus then spread to pigs in Texas, Iowa and Minnesota -- putting epidemiologists on alert about the new viral strain and the potential for a human outbreak.

A May 1999 N&O story titled "Disease detectives untangle mystery of mutant flu virus" (available in the paper's online archives) reported that the 1998 bug -- a pig virus "wrapped in a shell of human proteins"  -- was isolated by a state government veterinary lab. Similar mutations are suspected in earlier flu outbreaks, including the 1918 Spanish flu that killed more than 20 million people worldwide.

According to that story, the virus was discovered in August 1998 at a 2,400-sow breeding farm owned by Newton Grove, N.C.-based Hog Slat Inc., a leading builder of factory-style hog farms. The company is also one of Sampson County's largest employers -- as is Smithfield Foods, the Virginia-based corporation that owns numerous hog farms near the Mexican community where the earliest case of the current swine flu was identified.

The 1998 North Carolina outbreak began with pregnant sows developing high fevers. A state microbiologist who tested nasal samples taken from the animals was surprised to encounter a virus he didn't recognize -- and his alarm grew when he found that some of the sick animals had been immunized for ordinary swine flu, the N&O reported:

He was concerned for good reason.

Pigs are considered by most virologists to be the primary source of deadly influenza pandemics in humans. Unlike epidemics, which are usually isolated within specific areas, pandemics spread quickly and can cover the world within a few months.

Those pandemic influenza viruses aren't believed to originate with the pigs, however. Most flu bugs that have infected humans in the past have been traced back to aquatic birds such as ducks and geese, suspected as the reservoir for almost all strains of human flu.

But because they are so genetically different, it is extremely difficult for viruses to jump directly from birds to people. That's where pigs come in.

Pigs are ideal mixing vessels, because they can pick up viruses from both birds and humans. And since viruses are always mutating, pigs can produce viruses that have a mix of genetic traits from both birds and humans. After that, it is possible for a potentially deadly strain of avian influenza virus to make the relatively short genetic hop from pigs to people.

The H1N1 virus behind the current flu outbreak contains genetic material from birds, humans and pigs, though it's called "swine flu" because it's a type of virus that typically infects hogs.

The state microbiologist investigating the 1998 outbreak sent samples of the virus to Dr. Robert Webster, a leading virologist at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Webster identified them as a mix of human and swine virus and concluded the virus had originated in humans before jumping to pigs.

North Carolina public health officials tested workers at the Hog Slat farm who had come in contact with the infected pigs. Those tests showed that 10% of the workers had developed antibodies to the virus, meaning they had been infected although they apparently hadn't become ill.

At the time, health experts said they did not believe the new virus posed a threat to humans -- but admitted the potential was there for future problems:

"We don't know how often these reassortments occur in nature -- probably more than we want to realize," said Dr. Newton MacCormack, chief of the communicable disease control section of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

"We're pretty lucky in that most of these viruses reach a genetic dead end," he said. "The big problem is the rare occasion when one of these viruses gets into a human and begins to be passed from person to person."

That's what's happening in the latest outbreak.

But fortunately, it appears we may get lucky again, as the World Health Organization has said community-level transmissions appear to be occurring only in the United States, Mexico and Canada, according to the Washington Post. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday that the outbreak appears to be milder than initially feared.

The fact that the virus is turning out to be not as bad as it could have been have led some to decry what they consider "hysteria" over the current outbreak. They include U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who recently called the reaction to the flu "overblown." However, President Obama said the response was justified by the risk presented by a new virus for which people lack natural immunity.

While we agree that overreacting to swine flu is not helpful, neither should this be a moment for complacency -- not given the very real problems the outbreak illuminates. There's a issue here just as critical as whether governments should discourage people from visiting crowded places during a flu outbreak, and that's how governments should best regulate factory farms.

Crowding thousands of pigs into cramped, filthy quarters creates ideal conditions for the fast spread of potentially dangerous viruses. The Humane Society of the United States points out that the unnatural density of such operations enables the large viral loads considered necessary for the emergence of rare flu mutations that can then spread rapidly among animals. The crowded conditions also stress the animals' immune systems, while the enormous quantities of decaying fecal waste predisposes them to respiratory infections and the lack of sunlight allows viruses to thrive. In addition, the industry's heavy reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines immunologically pressures the virus to mutate. And the flies and other pests attracted to such operations may be able to pick up viruses and carry them for miles.

A report released last year by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production warned of the risks of inadequate U.S. regulation of such operations. It noted that workers at industrial animal farms can serve as a "bridging population," transmitting animal-borne diseases to a wider community. It also pointed to problems with disposing of animal waste, which industrial hog farms typically collect in enormous open-pit lagoons and spray on farm fields, putting nearby waters at risk of contamination with pollutants including viruses.

And lagoons sometimes fail catastrophically, spreading contamination over large areas. For example, a spill from Sampson County's Bearskin Farms in 1995 resulted in the release of about a million gallons of hog waste into a tributary of the Cape Fear River. And that wasn't even the state's worst hog waste spill, a distinction held by Oceanview Farms in coastal Onslow County, where a 1995 lagoon failure contaminated the New River with 22 million gallons of hog waste -- twice the amount of pollution spilled from the Exxon Valdez. The Oceanview disaster killed 15 million fish and closed almost 365,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing.

In 2007, after years of work by environmental advocates, North Carolina became the first state in the country to ban the construction or expansion of lagoons and sprayfields on hog farms under the Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act. But that law doesn't require the closure of existing lagoons, which remain a very real environmental health threat to numerous rural communities. And of course, the law does nothing to address problems at hog farms in Mexico.

The Pew report offered a number of recommendations to reduce the factory farms' threat to the public, including improved disease monitoring and tracking, improved regulation, and phasing out of intensive confinement. Bob Martin, who directed the Pew study, told the N&O that the latest outbreak shows action is needed, given the very real potential for dangerous viral mixing at industrial hog farms:

"It's a matter of when, not if," Martin said. "The structure of the system is the problem."

If nothing else, the latest swine flu outbreak should spur governments to begin building a safer, more sustainable agricultural structure. And they must reach across national lines to do so, since neither agribusiness nor viruses are held back by borders.

Originally posted to Sue Sturgis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:32 AM PDT.

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  •  My hope... (307+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    racerx, RichM, GainesT1958, Mogolori, sny, Phoenix Woman, SarahLee, laurak, importer, maja27, Gooserock, MikeHickerson, sacrelicious, tommurphy, Shockwave, MsSpentyouth, mlharges, tacet, kpardue, bellatrys, lysias, dsb, Duncan Idaho, Plutonium Page, ZAPatty, Matilda, exNYinTX, nightsweat, Creosote, dnamj, Vitarai, opinionated, concernedamerican, bronte17, conchita, EricS, foxfire burns, BlackGriffen, BlackSheep1, Euroliberal, groggy, understandinglife, MD patriot, SkiBumLee, vmibran, chimpy, khloemi, ovals49, javelina, Ignacio Magaloni, oslo, ClickerMel, hopeful, dksbook, jdmorg, dejavu, Moody Loner, emmasnacker, businessdem, milton333, Gruvkitty, JimWilson, desmoinesdem, churchylafemme, chap, houyhnhnm, Catte Nappe, snakelass, renaissance grrrl, whyvee, lcrp, Blackstar, Pohjola, fritzrth, bwintx, JayBat, Silverbird, randallt, kfred, Lefty Mama, KayCeSF, NapaJulie, TexasLefty, ProgressiveSouth, Josiah Bartlett, bibble, donailin, sawgrass727, rapala, joanneleon, la motocycliste, tovan, historys mysteries, marina, radarlady, UFOH1, subtropolis, SherwoodB, waitingforvizzini, sc kitty, PBen, panicbean, Robin7459, terrypinder, eru, Jules Beaujolais, ladybug53, Ice Blue, blue jersey mom, govib, paxpdx, Shotput8, Floja Roja, Red Bean, Cory Bantic, Sister Havana, Jim R, begone, skywriter, Nowhere Man, occams hatchet, lilyvaldem, snazzzybird, myboo, BlueInARedState, andydoubtless, Ellicatt, mr crabby, borkitekt, Dvalkure, koNko, TPain, dougymi, tecampbell, A Siegel, Libby Shaw, imabluemerkin, FireCrow, JVolvo, bleeding heart, Preston S, el cid, doinaheckuvanutjob, Cenobyte, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, suspiciousmind, ticket punch, RantNRaven, chapel hill guy, revgerry, shaharazade, Statusquomustgo, PhilW, Mr Horrible, HGM MA, Hedwig, AllanTBG, mariachi mama, lucretiamott, Aaa T Tudeattack, Reel Woman, DBunn, pat of butter in a sea of grits, ladypockt, Drama Queen, old wobbly, lightfoot, DorothyT, Mom to Miss M, Loudoun County Dem, Bob Guyer, Cottagerose, moosely2006, linkage, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, power2truth, LillithMc, Nespolo, terabytes, ezdidit, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, sfbob, joyful, newpioneer, bnasley, dolphin777, Kentucky Kid, jayden, jnhobbs, gchaucer2, cececville, imbarbaric, keikekaze, willb48, Hens Teeth, Empower Ink, jwinIL14, MKinTN, flowerfarmer, ms scarlett leadpipe, Youffraita, bythesea, elwior, Wes Opinion, Quicksilver2723, Tam in CA, mofembot, luckylizard, get the red out, James Kresnik, Piren, mary13L, dont think, Ellinorianne, dmhlt 66, shortgirl, forgore, Wild Starchild, legendmn, JonBarleycorn, SciMathGuy, malibu1964, pileta, loftT, Jacob Bartle, Mr Tentacle, BennyToothpick, litoralis, An Affirming Flame, WereBear, Carol in San Antonio, CanyonWren, Gwen12, dvschase, DefendOurConstitution, ancblu, Virginian in Spain, allep10, RadioGirl, Little Flower, DaNang65, brushysage, fernan47, EmmaKY, Dragon5616, davespicer, Randtntx, Words In Action, Julia C, Just Bob, Liberal Pagan, marabout40, pyegar, miss SPED, ArtSchmart, fidellio, CcVenussPromise, chrome327, Ronald Singleterry, Mara Jade, dagnome, Dexter, polar bear, Eddie L, samanthab, paradise50, dlemex, JasperJohns, DrFitz, aggregatescience, NYWheeler, rja, MsGrin, lurkersince03, ericlewis0, nosleep4u, ssldenver, Belle Ame, watershed, gobears2000, Colorado is the Shiznit, expatinmex, pragmatic optimist, Thassa, BlueState Michigan, Olon, kirbybruno, AuroraDawn, freesia, Amayi, impygirl, MPociask, MRA NY, Empty Vessel, Faroutman, yaque, Aquagranny911, Wood Dragon, earljellicoe, StateOfGrace, Wom Bat, lincoln deschain, James Protzman, DeeTex, whitewash, Book of Hearts

    ...is that governments will use the swine flu outbreak as a wake-up call to address the serious public and environmental health risks associated with poorly regulated industrial animal farms.

      •  "How Freedom Was Lost," by Devilstower. (26+ / 0-)

        First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. -M.Gandhi (see also, Republican strategy)

        by ezdidit on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:33:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Boss Hogg and other CAFOs (22+ / 0-)

          Smithfield and others have callously polluted huge bodies of water, including many rivers in Virginia and North Carolina, now these factory hog farms (hogs stacked 4 layers high in some, each layer spreading waste to those below) are breeding grounds a virus that could spread around the world.

          Check out this article:
          Porks Dirty Secret

          Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do -- even if it came marginally close to that standard -- it would lose money. So many of its contractors allow great volumes of waste to run out of their slope-floored barns and sit blithely in the open, untreated, where the elements break it down and gravity pulls it into groundwater and river systems. Although the company proclaims a culture of environmental responsibility, ostentatious pollution is a linchpin of Smithfield's business model.

          Let me see, exactly what "benefit" do these factory hog farms give to society?  The ability to eat salty, fatty meat that clogs arteries?

          Shut down the factory hog operations, and do it this year.  No excuse for them to exist.

          "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

          by MD patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:57:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unless you're shareholder.... (11+ / 0-)

            they don't benefit you. I would also like to see them closed, but we'll have quite a fight on our hands. Big Ag will fight any effort to shut down their factory farms - hog or otherwise - tooth and nail.

            I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past. ~ Clara Barton

            by AuroraDawn on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:27:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  NAFTA Flu (13+ / 0-)

              Welcome to the aftermath of "free trade." Authorities now want you to grab a hospital facemask and avoid human contact until the outbreak hopefully blows over. And if you start to feel dizzy, or a flush with fever, or other symptoms begin to molest you or your children, remember this: The real name of this infirmity is "The NAFTA Flu," the first of what may well emerge as many new illnesses to emerge internationally as the direct result of "free trade" agreements that allow companies like Smithfield Farms to escape health, safety and environmental laws.

              Smithfield is barely regulated in Mexico

              "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

              by MD patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:10:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  They're barely regulated here! (15+ / 0-)

                Or rather, to be more accurate, I should say that the regulations we have were almost never enforced under Bush. It's a wonder we didn't all succumb to food poisoning or a NAFTA flu during his tenure. Hopefully, the FDA and the other agencies can be quickly rebuilt now that Dubya's left the building.

                I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past. ~ Clara Barton

                by AuroraDawn on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:27:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  NAFTA has decimated small farmers in Mexico (0+ / 0-)

                  They are pushed out by the mega-corporate types like "Boss Hogg" Smithfield.   And naturally the "pro-business" slimes that were elevated by the bush criminals were essential in ending any meaningful regulation of these mega-corps.  The only regulations pursued by the bushies were those designed to subsidize their fat cat cronies and beat down the small farmers on either side of the border.

                  "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

                  by MD patriot on Wed May 06, 2009 at 06:09:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  NAFTA is not the root cause (12+ / 0-)

                And it is counter-productive to suggest so.

                The problem is the methods of livestock production and health/safety standards applied; in that respect, international standards and systems are the most complete and effective approach since it forces compliance with a human and business motive.

                I would like to point out that the US pioneerd such methods of industrial livestock production and the history of these problems pre-dates NAFTA including numerious cases of domestic empidemic in livestock.

                Furthermore, we share one planet and particularly one sky where birds fly and winds blow regardless of laws, treaties or politics.

                If the US would change direction and cooperate more in international organizations and regulation, it would be a step in the right direction away from the obstructionist, isolationist and anti-scientific posture of the Bush Administration.

                isolationist - one who thinks there is more to be gained by ignoring the rest of the world.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:39:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  did ya know... (16+ / 0-)

            how poisonous the farms are? A few people have lost their lives falling into vats of toxic pig waste.

            My girlfriend's family has worthless property in NC--worthless due to the poisonous fumes, waste, smell, etc.  It is really quite horrible, more horrible than we know.

            I'm with you...shut 'em down.

            Of all the disciplines, history is best qualified to reward our research.--Malcolm X

            by consciousempress on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:04:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yah, but the property of the poor doesn't count (3+ / 0-)

              Only the property of rich people is worth taking care of/fighting for, per the John Galts of the world.

              "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

              by bellatrys on Tue May 05, 2009 at 04:44:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It gets better... (8+ / 0-)

              It's not just that people died after falling into the lagoons. They died because they were overcome by the fumes, passed out, and fell in.

              So normal mildly-hazardous-aerosols-or-gases gear won't protect you, and since real filter masks are hard to use properly and difficult to breathe in once fitted, you'd probably need a pressurized mask with a self-contained air supply.

              Revenge is a dish best served with mayonnaise, and those little cheesy things on sticks. -- Osric the Loopy

              by Shaviv on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:12:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i spent over 2 hours reading up (6+ / 0-)

                on this the other night. The lagoons, one would think, would be brown if not black, but they are not, they are an unnatural horrible pepto-bismol PINK. Why? from the blood of the piglets and and pigs that die and are disposed of with the waste.

                Here is an article from  Rolling Stone in 06 that will make you never eat pork again.

                "....Smithfield Foods actually faces a more difficult task than transmogrifying the populations of America's thirty-two largest cities into edible packages of meat. Hogs produce three times more excrement than human beings do. The 500,000 pigs at a single Smithfield subsidiary in Utah generate more fecal matter each year than the 1.5 million inhabitants of Manhattan. The best estimates put Smithfield's total waste discharge at 26 million tons a year. That would fill four Yankee Stadiums. Even when divided among the many small pig production units that surround the company's slaughterhouses, that is not a containable amount.

                A lot of pig shit is one thing; a lot of highly toxic pig shit is another. The excrement of Smithfield hogs is hardly even pig shit: On a continuum of pollutants, it is probably closer to radioactive waste than to organic manure. The reason it is so toxic is Smithfield's efficiency. The company produces 6 billion pounds of packaged pork each year. That's a remarkable achievement, a prolificacy unimagined only two decades ago, and the only way to do it is to raise pigs in astonishing, unprecedented concentrations.

                Smithfield's pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs -- anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

                The temperature inside hog houses is often hotter than ninety degrees. The air, saturated almost to the point of precipitation with gases from shit and chemicals, can be lethal to the pigs. Enormous exhaust fans run twenty-four hours a day. The ventilation systems function like the ventilators of terminal patients: If they break down for any length of time, pigs start dying.

                From Smithfield's point of view, the problem with this lifestyle is immunological. Taken together, the immobility, poisonous air and terror of confinement badly damage the pigs' immune systems. They become susceptible to infection, and in such dense quarters microbes or parasites or fungi, once established in one pig, will rush spritelike through the whole population. Accordingly, factory pigs are infused with a huge range of antibiotics and vaccines, and are doused with insecticides. Without these compounds -- oxytetracycline, draxxin, ceftiofur, tiamulin -- diseases would likely kill them. Thus factory-farm pigs remain in a state of dying until they're slaughtered. When a pig nearly ready to be slaughtered grows ill, workers sometimes shoot it up with as many drugs as necessary to get it to the slaughterhouse under its own power. As long as the pig remains ambulatory, it can be legally killed and sold as meat."

                it's fucking criminal.

                Those who survive are those who adapt.

                by donailin on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:48:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Pigs are people too... (5+ / 0-)

              We must help these beautiful and smart animals to live happy and productive lives. Factory farming is the the enemy here..not the pigs themselves, They are sentient intelligent animals who deserve our love and respect. The fact that we share diseases shows me we are close genetically and we have similarities that need to be recognized. Thank you for this...

              Crowding thousands of pigs into cramped, filthy quarters creates ideal conditions for the fast spread of potentially dangerous viruses. The Humane Society of the United States points out that the unnatural density of such operations enables the large viral loads considered necessary for the emergence of rare flu mutations that can then spread rapidly among animals. The crowded conditions also stress the animals' immune systems, while the enormous quantities of decaying fecal waste predisposes them to respiratory infections and the lack of sunlight allows viruses to thrive.

              As humans we have a responsibility here to be Humane. This is the perfect time to demand a better way. We have more support than we have had in a very long time, and I think if we push this issue we can make a big change here. This is an opportunity to expose the masses to the real horrors of Factory Farming, where their food actually comes from, and how we can be better. Peace to the beautiful Pig...
              Photobucket

              Proud to be everything the Right Wing hates!

              by Wild Starchild on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:17:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  We need the wake-up call (48+ / 0-)

      Southern Exposure magazine first blew the whistle on the massive damage caused by factory hog farms in the early 1990s. Lawmakers still aren't addressing the problem.

      Blogging for a Progressive South // www.southernstudies.org

      by ProgressiveSouth on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:47:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But because the solution runs counter to (41+ / 0-)

      big agribusiness interests it will be a long time coming.

      the latest swine flu outbreak should spur governments to begin building a safer, more sustainable agricultural structure.

      Smaller, family farm sized operations would be more appropriate, but the current "too big to fail" model of agribusiness is not going to go quietly.  

      "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." -- Mark Twain

      by ovals49 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:47:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except that (23+ / 0-)

        there were flu epidemics before factory farms existed, when smaller, family farm sized operations were the norm, and farms of that type were likely to be the origin of Asian flu and Hong Kong flu outbreaks in last half of the previous century.

        So it isn't simply a function of big agri-business, and smaller, family farm sized operations aren't the solution. I have no idea what the complete solution would involve, but it needs to be applicable from the largest to the smallest producers, and it needs to be enforceable and affordable in even the poorest parts of the world.

        It's necessary to look beyond "farmers we like" and "corporations we hate" to provide future prevention, when the "farmers we like" are just as capable of intiating a lethal pandemic.

        Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

        by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:18:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  even so (and yes I agree with you) (12+ / 0-)

          this effort is probably the best to date on the subject regarding factory farming and swine flu. And I agree totally, it does need to be applicable. I live within 2 miles of several Amish farms that have pigs, chickens, and so on. What's to stop a localized virus from breaking out there?

          (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

          by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:25:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Family farms are less likely to enable virus (23+ / 0-)

            The Spanish flu occurred after large stockyard operations were in place to feed cities. Animals raised on small farms were massed together for slaughter or on railroads. I don't know if this was the vector, but it might have been.

            The bottom line is that any massing of animals, including people, in unsanitary conditions results in disease, and this has been known for centuries.

            I do not think it is possible to run a sanitary, healthy CAFO, and think they should be banned for public health reasons, let alone animal cruelty

            •  Also, family farms are less likely (14+ / 0-)

              to be buying politicians and paying off inspectors.

              Like that peanut-butter factory. How many times did that factory "pass" inspection when salmonella was rampant?

              A viral outbreak at a small farm is going to be more easily controlled, because the number of people (and pigs, and birds) passing through it is by definition much smaller.

              Finally, this:

              there were flu epidemics before factory farms existed, when smaller, family farm sized operations were the norm,

              is an argument against any kind of animal farm. It is not a particularly good defense of large farms.

              Member, The Angry Left

              by nosleep4u on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:27:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not really (6+ / 0-)

                Small farmers organize, often as co-operatives. So for example, the Grange movement was politically effective in the early 20th century (fortunately they favored things like primary elections and direct election of Senators, for the most part). Do some research on AMPI and John Connoly. The town I live near is the home of the world's largest ag co-op, and they have some political clout as well.

                As far as flu epidemics being an argument against any animal farming, I suppose that's true if you're a narrow-minded individual who can't imagine other possible solutions and are intolerant of other people's dietary choices. Otherwise, I don't think it's much of an argument.

                But it isn't a defense of factory farms, which I have no interest in defending. It's a suggestion that an ideological bias favoring a particular method of agriculture is going to prevent a complete solution of the problem.

                Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:00:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The flu as existed far longer than factory farms (7+ / 0-)

                  but at we are talking about here is probabilities. Massing animals together increasing the likelihood of mutating viruses. Yes small farms can be a vector for disease but not to he same extent that large farms can. You are right that getting rid of CAFO will not get rid of flu mutation but do we want to face a pandemic every ten years or every fifty years?

                  Blackwater is changing its name to Xe.

                  by Toon on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:34:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think what you're saying is important (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    terrypinder, mochajava13, Toon

                    to understand - it's very much an idea of probabilities, and the density of factory farms probably makes them more susceptible to outbreaks. On the other hand, factory farms have the resources and the incentives, due to their much larger investment, to do things like detect and contain outbreaks earlier, have more professional management, and are more likely to involve veterinarians.

                    Sick animals hurt profits, and factory farming is almost strictly about profits. Dumping waste into local groundwater helps profits, so they'll do that (as long as it remains profitable), but it works the other way too to some extent.

                    I don't know where the probabilities balance out - they could well favor smaller farmers - but I think in terms of how we regulate and even subsidize, that should be a factor in our determinations and something that should be researched and quantified.

                    Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                    by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:35:42 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Um, coops don't usually buy politicians. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nosleep4u, AuroraDawn

                  They lobby, but openly and honestly -- I haven't seen any major smoke-filled-room secret purchase scandals the way we tend to see with corporations.  

                  And I've certainly never heard of the Grange paying off inspectors.

                  Maybe this is simply because they have to please all their members, and if more than a few are anti-corruption, it's not worth it for them to go totally corrupt -- whereas large corporations don't have to pay any attention to their stockholders at all, and are run by one-man CEO dictators for the most part.

                  -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                  by neroden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:15:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In 1972 or 1973 (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    terrypinder

                    former TX governor John Connally went on trial (and was acquitted) for accepting $10,000 in bribes from Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI - now Dairy Farmers of America or DFA), which was and is a marketing co-operative for dairy farmers. You could drive around WI and see AMPI signs on dairy farms back then.

                    Also in early 1972, Nixon reversed his opposition to increasing dairy price supports, and AMPI funneled a few hundred thousand dollars into GOP campaigns across the country.

                    The AMPI representatives testified at Connally's trial that they bribed him, but he still got off. He went on to be Nixon's Treasury Secretary. Connally was also on the White House tapes advising Nixon to reverse his position on price supports.

                    Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                    by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:43:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Universal veganism? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger, oslo, murrayewv

                That may seem like a reasonable solution to you, but it's not going to sell with the general public. It's not going to make disease go away, anyway. The peanut factory is a good example of a non-animal way that disease can be spread. And remember, we're still expecting a bird flu problem someday... do you want to wipe all of the pigeons out of the cities?

                •  Wipe out the pigeons in cities? YES!!! (0+ / 0-)

                  They're basically rats with feathers, in cities.

                  Venice, where the pigeons were fed as a tourist attraction, stopped the feeding ten years ago. St mark's square is a lot cleaner now.

                  •  Hey, rats are pretty cool too. (0+ / 0-)

                    But more seriously, to what end do we want to exterminate pigeons from cities? Apart from the fact that it would be extremely expensive or have lots of potential for going wrong (if you used poison, for example), I just don't see the point.

                    Keeping the population in check with predators, sure, that makes sense. Reducing it to zero just isn't worth it.

                    Revenge is a dish best served with mayonnaise, and those little cheesy things on sticks. -- Osric the Loopy

                    by Shaviv on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:15:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not vegan (0+ / 0-)

                  not even close!

                  I was just pointing out a logical hole in the upstream comments.

                  As Toon pointed out, this is about probabilities; large-scale farms tilt them in favor of pathogens by providing larger host pools, more vectors, and more cross-species interaction. The fact that viruses existed before factory farms isn't the point.

                  Member, The Angry Left

                  by nosleep4u on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:33:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You could argue... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger, jxg, mochajava13

                    ...that small farms actually tilt toward more contact beween different animals and people and thus increase the likelihood of multi-species viral variants. The fact that we've had fewer new viruses since we moved toward factory farms would seem to support that hypothesis. (I have no evidence either way, by the way... it's just a hypothesis).

                  •  So just to chime in (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger

                    technically, don't most factory farms have only one type of animal?  And a lot of large factory farms have bird repellents, specifically so that a bird virus can't get into the pig population.

                    The problem with overcrowding is that any infectious disease can be transmitted much more rapidly than a sparsely populated area.  So if a rare mutation does occur, the new virus will transmit very rapidly in a population because of the overcrowding.  It's not possible to isolate/quarantine the first infection before the infection spreads.

                    In theory, small farms are much more likely to have a flu recombination.  Small farms are more likely to have both chickens and pigs.  Chickens can contract bird flu relatively easily, and are much closer to the pigs to transmit the virus.  Hence, it's very easy for a new flu virus to emerge from a small farm.  

                    With factory farms, the chances of a new virus are fairly slim; a bird has to fly overhead, drop their excrement over the pigs, and have the pigs snuffle up the excrement.

                    There are many, many reasons to regulate or shut down large farms.  The flu is not one of them.  If we are serious about putting regulation on large farms, we need to focus on provable facts (waste management issues, leaking into the water supply, deforestation to make room for animals), not on theories.  

                    •  Factories may farm only one type of animal (0+ / 0-)

                      but they generally have retention ponds, etc, that other species frequent. There can be hundreds, even thousands of such non-farmed animals & birds. It's not just a random duck pooping out of the sky. There is substantial interaction even on single-species factory farms.

                      E.g. if you take 500 ducks and 10,000 pigs and put them all on one factory farm, you have 500*10000  = 5 million potential interactions. Split those same animals up among 25 farms and you have (20*400)* 25 = 200,000 potential interactions ... under 5% of the factory farm.

                      In addition, non-farmed animals also tend to leave the factory area more than the secondary animals on smaller farms. They will likely need to roam more for food, etc. On a smaller farm, many of the non-swine are farmed/domesticated animals and cannot or will not leave. Because of their wider roaming, non-farmed animals from a factory farm potentially vector further than a similar animal from a small farm.

                      Its possible factory farms could be run in a way that avoided these problems, but it would likely cost enough to make them less economically efficient than a small farm.

                      Member, The Angry Left

                      by nosleep4u on Wed May 06, 2009 at 07:04:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  From my recollection, the 1918 Spanish Flu (11+ / 0-)

              resulted from viral contamination of water by migratory waterfowl in Kansas and first appeared in humans at a U.S. Army base.  Troop movements during WWII enabled the spread of the disease.

              moderation in everything ... including moderation

              by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:33:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  WWI, but yes. troop movements (5+ / 0-)

                spread it. It got its name because the Spanish were the first to acknowledge its presense.

                (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

                by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:41:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Fort Riley bred hogs and poultry for the troops (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ice Blue, C Barr

                and then the soldiers were stationed around the world... and it spread. That's one theory on the 1918 flu.

                One theory is that the virus strain originated at Fort Riley, Kansas, by two genetic mechanisms – genetic drift and antigenic shift – in viruses in poultry and swine which the fort bred for food; the soldiers were then sent from Fort Riley to different places around the world, where they spread the disease. However, evidence from a recent reconstruction of the virus suggests that it jumped directly from birds to humans, without traveling through swine.[52][53] This suggestion is however controversial,[54] and other research suggests that the strain originated in a mammalian species.

                <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:49:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Prevailing view is 100% avian origin (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, terrypinder

                  The prevailing view is that the 1918 H1N1 was an avian influenza that made the jump directly into humans with no mixing in pigs.  There is little or no genetic evidence from the reconstructed strains of mammalian origin.  

                  The link you provide for Jeff Taubenberger's Nature paper does not suggest any mammalian origin.  The major conclusion of the paper is:

                  ...the 1918 virus was not a reassortant virus (like those of the 1957 and 1968 pandemics, but more likely an entirely avian-like virus that adapted to humans.

                  Rome is burning and they do not even smell the smoke.

                  by Mote Dai on Tue May 05, 2009 at 04:49:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But, that's not a certainty. Some say mammalian (0+ / 0-)

                    Taubenberger, 2005:

                    The influenza A viral heterotrimeric polymerase complex (PA, PB1, PB2) is known to be involved in many aspects of viral replication and to interact with host factors, thereby having a role in host specificity. The polymerase protein sequences from the 1918 human influenza virus differ from avian consensus sequences at only a small number of amino acids, consistent with the hypothesis that they were derived from an avian source shortly before the pandemic. However, when compared to avian sequences, the nucleotide sequences of the 1918 polymerase genes have more synonymous differences than expected, suggesting evolutionary distance from known avian strains.

                    Here's a Brief Communications Arising from Mark J. Gibbs & Adrian J. Gibbs concerning Taubenberger's paper:

                    Abstract

                    Arising from: J. K. Taubenberger et al. Nature 437, 889–893 (2005); see also communication from Antonovics et al.; Taubenberger et al. reply

                    Taubenberger et al.1 have sequenced the polymerase genes of the pandemic 'Spanish' influenza A virus of 1918, thereby completing the decoding of the genome of this virus2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The authors conclude from these sequences that the virus jumped from birds to humans shortly before the start of the pandemic and that it was not derived from earlier viruses by gene shuffling, a process called reassortment. However, we believe that their evidence does not convincingly support these conclusions and that some of their results even indicate that, on the contrary, the virus evolved in mammals before the pandemic began and that it was a reassortant. In light of this alternative interpretation, we suggest that the current intense surveillance of influenza viruses should be broadened to include mammalian sources.

                    Vana and Westover, 2007:

                    Amino acids from all eight segments were concatenated, aligned, and used for phylogenetic analyses. In addition, the genes of the polymerase complex (PB1, PB2, and PA) were analyzed individually. All of our results showed the Brevig-Mission/1918 strain in a position basal to the rest of the clade containing human H1N1s and were consistent with a reassortment hypothesis for the origin of the 1918 virus. Our genome phylogeny further indicates a sister relationship with the "classic" swine H1N1 lineage. The individual PB1, PB2, and PA phylogenies were consistent with reassortment/recombination hypotheses for these genes. These results demonstrate the importance of using a complete-genome approach for addressing the avian-origin hypothesis and predicting the emergence of new pandemic influenza strains.

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:22:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Taubenberger (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      badger, terrypinder

                      Taubenberger's later papers conclude a direct avian heritage, so he had more data than when he made the statements in the 2005 paper you cited. Here is another brief quote from an abstract by Taubenberger:

                      The "Spanish" influenza pandemic of 1918-19 caused acute illness in 25-30 percent of the world's population and resulted in the death of up to an estimated 40 million people. Using fixed and frozen lung tissue of 1918 influenza victims, the complete genomic sequence of the 1918 influenza virus has been deduced. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the completed 1918 influenza virus genes shows them to be the most avian-like among the mammalian-adapted viruses. This finding supports the hypotheses that (1) the pandemic virus contains genes derived from avian-like influenza virus strains and that (2) the 1918 virus is the common ancestor of human and classical swine H1N1 influenza viruses. The relationship of the 1918 virus with avian influenza viruses is further supported by recent work in which the 1918 hemagglutinin (HA) protein crystal structure was resolved.

                      I think the second quote you have above is from when the original paper stating a direct avian heritage was published as it was quite controversial.  The conventional wisdom was that mixing had to occur in pigs before avian strains could infect humans.  More data has since been collected and other evidence not based simply on genomic sequence has been collected.  Experiments have been performed using the reconstructed 1918 strains (such as the crystal structure studies alluded to in the block quote above from Taubenberger).

                      As for the last one, I have never heard of those authors and it is published in a lower tier, non-virology journal.  In the science world, that means it comes with a huge grain of salt.  Who knows, there is a chance they might be right, but it isn't the prevailing view of most virologists these days.

                      Rome is burning and they do not even smell the smoke.

                      by Mote Dai on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:33:05 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  this may be true to an extent (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, Floja Roja, C Barr

              however given the history of flu viruses and others (SARS, etc.) in Asia banning factory farms (I'm using that term because CAFO is imprecise--even small farms can be CAFOs and what we're all objecting to here are large scale factory farms) may not stem the tide, as it were.

              as long as people live near animals, like they do in China, there can be exposure to viruses that go from people to animals and vice-versa.

              (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

              by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:39:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Read Jared Daimonds' "Guns Germs and Steel" (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger, MD patriot, terrypinder

                Likely histories
                Influenza; ducks-pigs-humans
                Tuberculosis; cattle-humans
                Smallpox; camels-humans

                moderation in everything ... including moderation

                by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:31:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  you know I actually read that book (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  C Barr

                  and found he repeat himself a lot and after awhile I had to put it down. I didn't care for it. Collapse was a far superior book.

                  (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

                  by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:38:02 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  CAFO (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                koNko, Mr Horrible

                stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations which is exactly what we are talking about. Factory farm is the broader term and IMHO the less precise term.

                Blackwater is changing its name to Xe.

                by Toon on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:39:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder

                Factory farms are far more prevalent in Western nations than Asia in general and China in particular. We tend to prefer the little, scrawny birds produced by traditional methods, preferably the red and black ones, than the pale, bloated, steroid-addicted wrecks produced by factory farms.

                Sadly, since the mid-1990's factory farming in Southern China and some regions of the Yangtze Delta are increasing, making our beloved little farm raised chickens more expensive.

                I'm not sure I get your point about the proximity of animals and humans.

                What is more importiant is the proximity of any animals to each other and access to fresh air, sunshine and clean water, something sorely lacking in factory farms anywhere.

                Factory farming produces pitifully freakish livestock and we are what we eat so that might be some food for thought.

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:34:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If a person is close to an animal (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, terrypinder, koNko

                  the disease may jump from the animal to the person.  This can't happen if animals are far from people, but can happen if animals are kept near people.  Lots of diseases jumped the species barrier this way: flu, smallpox, and arguably the plague.  

                  Most bacteria and viruses are specialized to one species.  Keep in mind, bacteria and viruses "want" to survive too, and usually mutate so that they don't causes diseases (or at least only a minor disease) in their host.  Bacteria and viruses don't do well when in another species.  Some of them get obliterated immediately by the new host species.  Others causes horrific diseases that aren't seen in the original host species (plague: not deadly to fleas).

                  •  Understood (0+ / 0-)

                    But assuming we animals (I include humans since we are so genetically similar to pigs ) will congregate in close proximity, what may be more importiant is the environmental conditions of our co-mingling, and that was my point.

                    Go to some pig farms in this world and you find clean animals grazing in fresh air and sunshine.  Go to others and they are in enclosed in filth.

                    I suppose the first is a lower risk to society.

                    Granted, the higher the mix, the greater the probability of species crossover, but the higher the population density (at any scale of life-form) the greater the opportunity for transmission, particularly for airbourne virus.

                    Here in Asia, our living conditions are generally more crowded than in the US so we have some traditional and modern social practices that reflect our environment. For example:

                    -Sick people (even a slight cold) generally wear face masks in public; sneeze in public without a mask or covering your face and you will get horrific, disaproving stares

                    -We remove our shoes when entering a home or workplace to avoid tracking dirt, traditionally considered to be "evil" inside (the case can be made)

                    -We receive and use wet cloths to wash before eating.

                    -We drink boiled water or tea.

                    -even in close proximity, people are careful to give each other "space"

                    -The term clean and good have the same root, suggesting a long association between the two

                    So you come to Asia and sometimes public places are unbelieveably crowded, but unless very poor, people are normally clean and tidy and so are our homes. In fact, in China, the outside of our homes often looks terrible but the inside quite the opposite ("inside/outside" could fill volumes here).

                    All of the above is, actually, quite a practical approach to minimizing risk were animals congregate.

                    My personal thought on the crowding and mistreatment of livestock is it disrespects them and us.  We are what we eat.  If we place such a low value on the animals that give their lives so we can live, aren't we putting a low value on our own lives?

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 08:23:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  But that's all speculation (16+ / 0-)

              and your first sentence is the ever-popular post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy - it happened after, therefore it happened because of. Your third sentence substantiates that.

              The first step is to recognize the scientific dimensions of the problem - the cause - which you do by saying 'less likely'. Which is quite different from 'never', esp if you're the one that's sick. From the little I know, I'd say that increasing density leading to decreased vigor or decreased immunity is a fundamental biological principle. It seems to hold for people, animals and plants. Monoculture just amplifies the effect. But pigs on small farms around the world still harbor and recombine flu viruses.

              The second step is to ask what's going to replace factory farming - which applies to almost all of our food - meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. If, for example, you advocate small family farm operations, assuming they can supply the volume of food needed (a big assumption), are you willing to pay enough for food so farmers can have the same living standard you have? Or do you think some people should accept second class living standards - as in the past here, and globally still true - to feed the rest of us at the prices we pay now? And if you're willing to pay higher prices, what about the people who can't?

              I'm most familiar with dairy farming in WI, and for 30 years or more there have been two possibilities: you can make the investment to factory farm your dairy herd, where the cows hardly ever leave the building, or you can run a 'traditional' dairy operation and hold down a second full-time job to pay your bills. I don't know of an exception to those choices, although there may be some.

              My wife grew up on a farm, and her neighbors made the first choice, and are still producing milk. My wife's family stayed with traditional farming, and their farm is now a subdivision and industrial park. I don't think raising pigs, chickens, beef or even carrots is much different. Vegetables farmers do things like irrigation - which inevitably decreases soil fertility - pesticides and herbicides, or they breed tasteless varieties of tomatoes for their mechanical properties or cranberries that can be blown into semitrailers without much damage.

              And a traditional dairy operation, or any kind of agriculture, is a huge investment in land, buildings, equipment and labor. Factory farms do achieve economies of scale to make that investment feasible. For the most part, I don't think family farms, even at lower levels of technology, can handle that investment at current producer price levels. Probably not if they're going to produce the kinds of yields we need.

              I'm not a fan of factory farms or feedlots because of the density, the overuse of antibiotics, the environmental damage they cause, and I don't like supporting large corporations who mostly don't care about any of that. There are certainly a lot of ways that food production can be improved and we should be advocating that. But it has to be a holistic and evidence-based process and not just an emotional, "shut-it-all-down" attitude.

              Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

              by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:52:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Excellent, excellent analysis (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger, murrayewv, CcVenussPromise

                Where will the path we're on now eventually lead us to?  Myself I think that our current economic system is ultimately unsustainable.  It used to be that most people were employed in food production.  Ultimately we may have to return to that.

                moderation in everything ... including moderation

                by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:36:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I feel pretty much the same way (4+ / 0-)

                  Returning to the simple, old-fashioned solutions isn't going to be sustainable either, IMO (although some of them might be very good, too). For a lot of reasons, it does seem that a lot of us will need to become more involved in producing the things we need to live - I don't think having 25% of our GDP from finance alone is viable either. In the long run you can't eat that.

                  And when you do get closer to the limits of sustainability, you have to put in more effort to make sure your choices have a high probability of success, not just doing things on a whim. That in turn means you need to understand entire systems and their interactions, not just the problem or task that's in front of you at some particular instant.

                  Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                  by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:42:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  dairy farms are huge polluters (0+ / 0-)

                    Lived downstream from one for so many years that I rarely eat any dairy products anymore.  Dairy and hog farms seem particularly polluting, although certainly any large CAFO type industry pollutes their surroundings.  Nothing needed from dairy unless of course you are a baby cow- then it is the perfect food.

                    We have entire river basins on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that are fouled by chicken waste.  Perdue and others don't care, they are busy raking in profits,leaving other Marylanders to suffer their destruction.

                    "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

                    by MD patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:07:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Some are (5+ / 0-)

                      My first house in WI was next to dairy farm, and my well was less than 30 feet deep. It was tested when I bought and when I sold, and never had any E Coli contamination, and there was no runoff from that farm in any direction.

                      My second house in WI was in the middle of dairy country and anything less than maybe 60 feet deep there was contaminated, but the area also had a high water table (less than 2 feet below the surface). I rented my corn field to the farmer across the road, who spread manure on it. The runoff was to a ditch down the middle of the field which was just a catchment - it didn't drain to anywhere. The dog didn't smell too good after tromping through the ditch, but that only happened once or twice.

                      The irony in this thread is that large dairy operations can afford automatic barn cleaners and manure ponds or holding tanks that small family farmers can't. Whether they make the investment depends on whether the state enforces environmental laws. WI seems to.

                      But on the other hand, there was an effort in WI when I lived there to fence streams to keep cattle out, and the cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee's water supply in the early 90s was from farm runoff. So yeah, if it's not controlled either by topography, hydrology or a big investment, any kind of animal farming can have runoff problems.

                      On the other hand, I live in WA State now, in the middle of apple country. 2.5 miles down the road from me is the one of the cleanest bodies of surface water in the US (50 miles long, 1 mile wide, and from 400 to 1300 feet deep) - the town near us didn't filter their water supply until 1996, and then it was because EPA required it, not because there was a significant reason to do it. But I wouldn't want to stir up the sediment on the bottom of the lake and drink the pesticides that live down there from 100 years of apple growing runoff - that includes some of the stuff they use in organic orchards. And even in WI, I'd be just as worried about the runoff from corn or bean fields as from cow manure.

                      Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                      by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:48:41 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Have Washington apples been grown for the (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        badger, miss SPED

                        world for 100 years? I ask earnestly. Just trying to think of those orchards having become so massive driven by profit from world trade opportunity 100 years ago rather than from the concept of a farmer having a largish orchard as part of a diverse operation, where the apples grown were mostly for a region and profitable enough. Could be exported, etc.

                        I think it wasn't that long ago, 1940s, that Washington was being seriously coming of age in large agricultural production and with the railroad coming in? I think it was then that there was a demand for workers in agriculture and later in the railroad industry from 1942-1947? I don't know. I'm just thinking about these things. I keep a library at home of mostly American history books.

                        I know from one account that imported apples would reach places like Cuba for instance in the 1950s, it was like a seasonal exotic Christmas gift from America, it came in purple tissue paper and if you were a Cuban child and got one that year it was a very special treat...

                        •  Washington export of apples (4+ / 0-)

                          Washington exports a lot of apples (and has for a very long time) because the climate is virtually ideal for growing apples, leading to very high quality fruit creating demand even against local fruit in overseas markets, and being coastal, we are ideally situated to put the apples right on ships, lowering transportation costs and time to market.

                        •  Washington exports huge amounts (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          badger, terrypinder, CcVenussPromise

                          of apples to Mexico. Probably one of the largest markets for them.

                        •  The first orchards where I live (3+ / 0-)

                          were started in the 1890s by some of the first settlers. Since Eastern WA was virtually unsettled then, some of the early crop was probably for export, but I couldn't say when that began. Irrigation started in the 1890s too, as most of the orchards are in near-desert.

                          The Great Northern RR crossed WA State to Seattle by 1893, and just south of here there was a tram from the Columbia Plateau to the Columbia River - about a 1000 ft drop - to transfer wheat to barges.

                          Just about everything east of the Columbia is wheat country, except for areas around Quincy and Yakima (the Palm Springs of Washington State). South of Yakima is wine country.  Most apples (cherries and pears too) grow in a narrow strip between the Columbia and the Cascades almost to the Canadian border, and the Cascades form a southern boundary too, on a line from Wenatchee to Leavenworth (again, some farther south around Yakima). There might be some peaches, but surprisingly the big peach growing area is about 150 miles north in British Columbia. A lot of central WA is National Forest, wilderness and National Park.

                          We live about 1000 ft higher than most of the orchards, on the east slope of the Cascades. A lot of orchards have been pulled out here in the last 10 years for vineyards or development, partly in response to imports from New Zealand and China.

                          Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                          by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:17:20 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  Sustainability (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, JanL, Sue Sturgis

                  The economic system is unsustainable because the energy and environmental foundations upon which it depends are not sustainable in their present state.  We're trashing the environment at an accelerating pace, and the energy which ultimately allows us to do so is running out.

                  Oh, there's wind and solar and geothermal (and even nuclear if you swallow hard) but they do not provide the energy density and convenience of oil.

                  What health and environmental protections we have in place are only possible because of the excess wealth we have by using such dense, convenient, cheap energy sources.  You don't see the same level of environmental protections in still-developing countries.  It's not just a matter of will, or of worker's rights, or of little-d democracy.  It's a matter of having the scientific and engineering infrastructure in place to allow an understanding of the problems and a development of means to deal with them.  That's neither cheap, nor easy, nor fast.  

                  When the cheap energy runs out, we'll be even harder pressed to keep in place the health and environmental protections we have now.  When that happens we'll really be set up for horrendous pandemics.

                  The only hope is exactly what Obama's trying to do - invest in development of alternative energy sources to buy us the time to transition to something sustainable in an orderly manner  (Including a lot lower population globally).  Because the alternative will be by letting nature take it's course, as always happens when a population has overshot what it's environment can sustainably support.  And that looks a lot like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

                  Ecological collapse is already happening. Your resentment of the word doesn't change the fact that it is occurring.

                  by Dem in Knoxville on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:30:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You've said it right. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JanL, C Barr, Sue Sturgis

                  It used to be that most people were employed in food production.

                  It's coming back to individual responsibility. Everyone that has even a small amount of land, even a few square yards, should be growing some of their own food.

                  It may sound strange, but... welcome to the post-third world. There are a LOT of changes coming.

              •  badger I understand what you're saying (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                miss SPED, watershed

                you wrote volumes there, permit me to comment only on one point: industrial food is not cheap. The real costs, Environmental, Health, Loss of Farms and Communities, Tax Subsidies.

                The last one alone:

                Taxpayers cover billions of dollars in government subsidies to industrial agriculture. Price supports, price "fixing," tax credits, and product promotion are all forms of "welfare" for agribusiness. Among the most outrageous subsidies is the $659 million of taxpayer money spent each year to promote the products of industrial agriculture, including $1.6 million to McDonald’s to help market Chicken McNuggets in Singapore from 1986 to 1994 and $11 million to Pillsbury to promote the Doughboy in foreign countries. Taken together, these subsidies add almost $3 billion to the "hidden" cost of foods to consumers.

                Environmental, Health, Loss of Farms and Communities, Tax Subsidies

                We can talk about what happened, how we got this way, but real changes need significant legislative actions in our states.

                •  No argument that big changes are needed (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  terrypinder, mochajava13

                  I have two major concerns (beyond the environment, health, unstressed animals and those kinds of things).

                  1. What we do should be based on the best science available, not on some ideology that lacks sufficient evidence or basis for what it advocates
                  1. We have to look at any changes holistically - what other systems will a proposed change affect: workers and local communities, food supply and food prices, effects on the overall economy, ensuring our solutions don't have worse unintended or ignored consequences than the problem we're trying to fix.

                  If we were talking about a subject I actually knew a lot about, I could maybe offer some better step-by-step prescriptions. But I do know some things about problem solving and failure analysis, since I have training, experience and have even done some teaching related to those. And I also know that really bad things can happen when you don't take those two concerns into account.

                  To some extent, you could even say the current factory farm system is due to the failure to address those two concerns, and I probably wouldn't argue. But that doesn't mean that another process failure is going to be able to repair the current failing system. It'll just be worse in different ways.

                  Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                  by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:07:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Michael Pollan and others as far back as (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    miss SPED, Sue Sturgis

                    the 70s possibly others earlier that I may not be familiar with, offer solutions, transitions, working models, examples, et al. Pollan is the current favorite and his work is easily accessible.

                    Some sources:
                    Eat Your Heart Out: How Food Profiteers Victimize the Consumer by James Hightower.

                    Appetite for Change: How the Counter-culture Took on the Food Industry by Warren James Belasco.

                    Culinary Tourism (Material Worlds) by John Robbins.

                    The Politics of Purity: Harvey Washington Wiley and the Origins of Federal Food Policy by Clayton Coppin and Jack High.

                    American Steak by Betty Fussell.

                    Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World by Andrew Rimas, Evan DJ Fraser.

                    Meat, Modernity and the Rise of the Slaughterhouse edited by Paula Young Lee.

                    The problem as I see it is a massive, massive bureacracy tipped in favor of every aspect involving industrial ag's continuation without permitting alternate models to move in. I know I oversimplify this. Particularly when I say changes are necessary in our state legislature's agricultural laws.

                    In my state for instance the food cooperative is working on acquiring funds for a mobile poultry processing unit. We have enough producers producing traditionally-raised poultry (pre-70's commercial poultry house industry) to make it worth the investment.

                    The traditionally raised poultry must be processed out-of-state at present. We have no processor in the state for this market, making the poultry expensive given the real costs.

                    We can't change the law faster than we can legally operate a mobile processing unit.

                    Is that realistic? It's our quick fix really.

                    Could local grocers buy the product from these producer. Legally, no. Restaurants are forbidden to buy from them as well.

                    They are shut out of a market that was once the normal way to get chicken at market, in the city and in town, unless you could grow your own and people did in towns before city ordinances forbid it.

                    Pre-1970s chicken farmers had a market for growing large numbers of free-ranging, or "yard-kept" poultry with housing and/or barns. But then came the beginning of the commercial poultry house. I believe the father of that enterprise is Colonel Sanders, KFC. Processors then began refusing to process the traditionally raised birds essentially shutting down a market that was doing fine.

                    Do we need the factory fast food model of KFC? Will KFC die away if commercial poultry houses are reverted to earlier models? Will it be a massive job loss? Market consequences, far and wide? I don't know.

                    But I have not eaten KFC for many years.

              •  What can replace them is this. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                miss SPED

                Large scale farms where animals are pened outside with adequate room to move their bodies, accecs to fresh air and sunshine, and not force fed or doped-up.

                There are now a few such operations in China that were formed as local cooperatives and doing quite well serving the niche market for organic produce at moderate prices (verses the increasingly higher prices for locally farmed live market poultry).

                However, one thing the distinguishes these operations is they tend to be local-owned cooperatives verses large corporate entities, so they focus on quality more than mass-production and packaging for large wholesale buyers.

                That is not to say large corporations couldn't do the same, but they are unlikely to since their business model is based on lowest-cost production on a unit/weight basis for large volume wholesale.

                Actually, I have a friend in Hong Kong who's an organic produce wholesaler & she explained the difference in these markets to me. Her business is mainly direct between farmers and consumers (to resturants and their own retail outlet).

                She handles the sales, logistics, testing etc and said the hard part is not finding farmers capable of producing good quality, but the logistics and cost of transportation. Beyond a certian radius, this does not work well on a small scale except for very high value produce shipped by air.

                Thus, live produce must be very local and fresh vegetables, less than 500km (half day shipment).

                This is not the business style of most large corporations, with possible exception of some Japanese companies.  I don't see it happening unless consummers demand it or or governments regulate it (ie, the farming conditions).

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:02:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Which is more likely to observe an emerging ... (6+ / 0-)

              problem, your random family farm or a business who has a lot of profit at risk?

              Which is more likely to have a vet on the premises or on call?

              Which is more likely to have a formal training program for the people working with the animals?

              --

              Please don't idealize the family farm.  

              I grew up on a family farm in a community of family farms.  I spend part of each year traveling in areas where there are still lots of traditional family farms.  

              Quality varies from farm to farm.  The cruel treatment of animals is not restricted to large scale operations.

              Not all small towns were as nice to live in as was Mayberry....

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:55:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Interesting thing about small/med farms/companies (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                judith2007

                Often the produce the best quality by doing things well, and because thier livelyhood depends directly on what they produce, more so than large corporations operating in defacto-cartels or monopolies.

                Cooperatives solve some of the resource problems you mention and this is successfully used in many place of the world as it has been for centuries.

                Let's not idealize corporate farming either, particularly the ones that run a business model that puts scale of production and profitability above the health of essentially captive customers.

                If you're going to argue that large corporations producing poultry in warehouses in cages where the birds are force-fed, doped with antibiotics and steriods, and have no access to free movement, fresh air or fresh water is a low risk because they have a staff vetinarian, or has consumer health as a high priority, you are welcome to do so.

                In such case, excuse me if I consider you blindly idealistic.

                I suppose all those antibiotics and steroids are used to protect birds and humans not profits, correct?

                Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:19:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  "excuse me if I consider you blindly" ... (0+ / 0-)

                  misreading what I wrote.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Wed May 06, 2009 at 07:46:59 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ditto (0+ / 0-)

                    Chill out. I think we mostly agree. Big or small can be good or bad and we shouldn't idealize either. That was my underlying point even if poorly expressed.

                    However, what you suppose to be the advantages of large enterprises (notice I said "farms/companies") are often disadvantages as well; resources/information can be used/misused equally.

                    For example; how often are bad test results hidden? That's not unusual in the public domain.

                    I think I raise some valid points you may consider more objectively such as my challange to your assertions that big companies/farms have more to lose so will be more responsive; this is not always the case and the "responsevness" of big companies is often more PR than corrective or preventive action.

                    I suggest smaller companies/farms are often much more so since the consequences to them are more immediate, and they have less clout to deal with the downside.

                    You could answer my last hypothetical question too; big or small, the use of drugs to promote unnnatural growth in animals is a dangerious practice that has more to do with maximizing profits than producing a wholesome product good for customers - you may disagree and I will listen to your reasoning.

                    Big or small, the overcrowding of animals in unhealth environments is not good, whoever is doing it and whatever their scale of operation. There are better means available. If we accept your assumptions about big companines with lots of resources and a strong commercial motive to make good products and protect thier reputation, than why don't more of these companies addopt better practices (since there are some that do)?

                    Assuming big or small is inherently better is blindly idealistic, and I'm against that.

                    BTW, I'm employed by a big company where I have worked for 21 years becuase it's a good company I'm proud to be a member of, and it has many of the positive attributes of scale you mention.  I think it's a good company because it has a strong ethical foundation and promotes best practice in operation; lots of small companies do that too, even without all the manuals and training sessions. In our supply and customer base we have big and small companies (we are B2B) of various competancy and I do recognize the differences scale can bring; there are certian things only a company of X resources can do just as there are things companies of less than N size do best - one reason big companies buy small ones and individuals employed by big ones often leave to found small ones. Thus, big or small can be beautiful.

                    Your comments are appreciated.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 08:23:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Based on what? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, murrayewv

              On what evidence are you basing the supposition that family farms are less likely to create viruses? Plagues have been around for as long as humans have been living in large enough groups to spread them.

              The bottom line is that any mixing of animals with humans can lead to plagues. Unsanitary conditions result in disease, but that doesn't mean that we won't have disease even if we keep every hog in a pristine pen with plenty of room. Nature will take its course. Mutations happen.

              •  I think you read something that wasn't there (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder, CcVenussPromise

                the supposition that family farms are less likely to create viruses?

                Or at least I couldn't find this in Bob Trip's comment.

                moderation in everything ... including moderation

                by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:52:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Yet, there is such a thing as scale and (7+ / 0-)

                orders of magnitude whereby too big is just too big. The concentration of too many animals in these small confined area is a major contributing factor to epizootics.

                Furthermore, when you have 2500 hogs in one barn and many of these barns on one single corporate factory farm, the environmental harm is too concentrated. It pollutes the air and water and harms the community, lowers the property values and robs the community of its lifeblood. Just so one business can freeload and thrive while everyone else bears the burden.

                <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:01:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Let's call it what it is - FACTORY FARM FLU n/t (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  watershed
                •  Facts..please (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, jxg

                  You may be right, but you are not providing evidence. Where is the evidence that scattered small farms have less of an environmental impact than large farms? That people living next to a smaller farm have a higher quality of life than those living near a larger farm? Where do you draw the line between "large" and "small"?

                  •  Large is not mega... it's that thing about scale (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JanL, CcVenussPromise, Toon, watershed

                    again.

                    As for the quality of life next to these factory farms... google it. It's not difficult to find the stories. Or the lawsuits.

                    People living on family farms for generations... college educated people who are invested in their communities and their land.

                    They don't want these behemoths locating in their communities. Next door to them. A couple hundred feet away from that brand new house they just built. Try living with that one.

                    These factory farms are kind of like the Appalachian coal mining... the environmental damage doesn't happen in your backyard, so what's the big deal?

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:11:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I live in a rural area (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      badger, terrypinder

                      We have a lot of small farms, and the quality of life next to any of them isn't always great. Pesticides get sprayed from airplanes. Cannons go off to frighten away birds. Dust all over the place (especially when they are plowing fields). Even a small livestock operation has a lot of flies and odors. Ag operations should not be near people who don't want to live with the effects of ag operations. Period. Nobody wants a huge factory farms moving into their community. That's why these operations tend to be in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes small cities grow up around them because these places provide jobs.

                      I can't imagine a circumstance where a factory farm would be allowed to move into a community with new housing. Cities have laws that protect existing residents from the kinds of odors and noises associated with farms. Generally when you have conflict between people and farms it is because the people put a house next to a farm that had been there for generations and then objected to its presence.

                      Regardless, I'm not arguing in favor of or against large ag operations. IMO, there are arguments on both sides. You are arguing against them and I'm asking for evidence for your arguments. I actually feel that we need to monitor ALL environmental impacts and minimize those we can. Pollution from farms, large and small, is a major problem that must be dealt with. But the pesticides applied to a 1000 acre farm are not less significant than the pesticides applied to 100 10 acre farms.

                      •  The conflict is the factory farms buying up (4+ / 0-)

                        land... we're not talking about the city slickers who flee the urban diversity for the exurban paradise only to discover smells of the countryside.

                        Factory farms are the nooby on the block. This phenomenon of intensive farming in constrained spaces took off maybe 20-30 years ago or so. And they've grown exponentially and integrated their systems and lobbied their weight around.

                        It costs a lot of money to challenge them and make them play by the rules and regulations and legislation. Lawsuits don't come cheap.  

                        Again... you have land that's been in families for generations. The couple starts building a brand new home on that land... they've worked and saved their entire life to build their dream home and lo-and-behold... neighbors begin selling out their farms to a corporate entity who consolidates all this land and applies for those permits to build factory farm barns and manure storage pits. That new house on the family land has just turned into a nightmare.

                        Remember, some people are land "rich" without lots of money... they inherit land.  You can't just go out and buy 200 acres of contiguous land (rich fertile land) unless you have some serious money or want to get indebted. 200 acres is a cool $2 million in central Kentucky... $750,000 in the more desolate regions of Kentucky.

                        "Can't imagine" happens all the time. You know the factory farms aren't on the inside of city/town jurisdiction boundaries...though some factory farms push up to that edge pretty hard. Zoning is the name of the game.

                        And, a few hundred hogs from the neighbor's farm down the road is bad enough when you're downwind. But 950,000 hogs and their waste are too much.

                        <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                        by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 04:41:46 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Not in California (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          badger

                          In our area the lots that have been owned by generations have houses on them. You can't subdivide the farmland to put new homes on without a virtual governmental act of god. And the people living on the farms are farmers - they know who is buying land and where they are buying it and from whom. The factory farms are going onto ag land that is zoned for maybe one house per 160 acres (at most). Maybe they do things differently in other parts of the country, but in California rural is rural... you don't put expensive new homes onto ag land and you don't put new agriculture near residential property. It just doesn't happen. The people living in the impacted lands would have a fit. And you'd be amazed how bad the smell from just a few hogs can be, much less a few hundred.

                          Maybe other parts of the nation need to learn a few things about land management from us.

                          •  Land management is an ongoing science (0+ / 0-)

                            and we all know from history... even current events... that those few who have the money and influence can "manage" the land as they see fit.

                            What happens in California is not the reality on the ground in Eastern Kentucky or western North Carolina or Veracruz, Mexico. Or Alaska or Alberta. Or Iraq. Or Nigeria, etc... It seems the list is endless.

                            <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                            by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:30:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  And your facts? (0+ / 0-)

                    Let me re-frame the picture; regardless of scale, well managed production under conditions where animals have adequate room to move, access to fresh air, fresh water and a drug-free environment is better than the opposite.

                    If you can find any large corporate poultry producers that meet that criteria, by all means post links to them.

                    Meanwhile, I suggest you move next to a factory farm and enjoy the quality of life, no doubt more consistent than found near the hodge-podge of small farms.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:26:09 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I especially agree with (3+ / 0-)

                  It's a matter of having the scientific and engineering infrastructure in place to allow an understanding of the problems and a development of means to deal with them.

                  I think that's what the discussion should be about - not whether you love small farms or big farms, or whether wind is better than solar or nuclear is better than both.

                  It's about the underlying dynamics of problems and what solutions are optimal - science and engineering are a big part of that, and so is democracy. And optimal doesn't mean perfect.

                  Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                  by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:00:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  2500 hogs too many for one barn? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  terrypinder, mochajava13

                  That would depend on how big the barn is.

                  The environmental harm comes from the fact that they don't collect, contain and process waste responsibly. If you can do that for a city of a few million, you can do it for a hog farm, although the technology to accomplish it economically might be different.

                  That in turn requires sufficient enforcement and sanctions to make it happen, and it probably requires not being able to move operations outside the US to places where standards and enforcement don't exist.

                  Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                  by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:05:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There is also the component of the quality of the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    koNko

                    product. Nature doesn't intend for the hog to be born, live and die on concrete. I'm referring to the argument that the confinement is unnatural and from there emanate the issue of the other problems needing the solutions you describe.

                    I know there is the argument that hog raising outside of confinement barns have those same issues but I disagree, pasture-raised hogs do not. But we've done so much damage to our food system, the amount of land needed is inaccessible, etc, that it's a huge problem to work on solutions to a better food system.

                    •  Spot On. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      terrypinder

                      I agree with your arguement based on the experience of living in a country where we transitioned from small scale subsistance farming to a certian level of Factory Farming in less than 20 years.

                      25 years ago, we didn't have enough food and most people (rural or urban) were undernourished. However, what we had was more natural, and if fresh, better quality. Obviously the yield was lower and that was part of the shortage problem.

                      On the way up, there was a learning curve with the use of chemicals and higher intensity farming, the the result was more food but often lower quality or contaminated food from over use of chemicals. However, in this period, poultry and pork became more available and the quality was good because traditional grazing was still dominant.

                      Today we have a mix of traditional and large-scale farming and the quality has converged a bit, but the interesting part is the value of small farm products has increased and intensive, organic farming is becoming a greater segment of the industry. If well managed, this can be as productive as industrial farming but it has to be localized to some extent since organic vegetables can be more perishable.

                      On the other hand, today poultry and pork is trending toward a lowest common denominator because of what you mention, the land required.  However, for some people (include me) we realize in the past we had far less meat and it's better to have quality than quantity.  Thus, some market for grazed produce has emerged in urban areas but the production volume would be a limit.

                      An exception is poultry because as pigs weren't made for concrete floors, birds were not made for warehouses so you can only produce quality by raising them outdoors.  This is not a problem if the consumption can be moderated, because chickens don't run away if they are well treated, and ducks love ponds with other ducks, you don't have to lock them in prison to get dinner.

                      There is a middle road where more sensible farming can produce enough and good quality, but you may have to eat "one bite too little than one bite too much" as the saying goes.

                      Moderation and reason can work better than greed on both sides of the fence.

                      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                      by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:53:10 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Care to suggest a space allocation? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    terrypinder

                    BTW, outside the USA livestock is often raised under much better conditions than inside the USA.

                    The US invented this type of intesive factory farming and has exported it elswhere.

                    Got to say, not very welcome in my country (personal opinion).

                    20 years ago, we had less chicken, but on average, the quality was much better than what one finds in supermarkets from mass-producers.

                    Won't feed my daughter steroids for dinner, she can do with less too.

                    I'm all for international standards and regulations, including some forbiding the use of steriods and classifying products containing them as a health risk with appropriate labeling, but something tells me the US would never sign-up to such regulations.

                    Monsanto was pretty successful killing US cooperation on GM, and now that thier "Intellectual Property" has contaminated the food chain and organic farmers cannot even certify their foods are GM free. Then Mondanto turns around and demands royalties from the farmers they stole seeds from before modifcation and patenting.

                    I'd be all for regulations banning such dangerous practices everywhere, because we only have one planet and don't control the wind. But the US government doesn't suport that.

                    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                    by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:44:00 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, and if contracted, owned by corporate (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bronte17

                  executives headquartered elsewhere, out-of-state for instance, the community does not benefit from this enterprise as far as things like interest
                  paid on the loans goes, that also leaves the area, necessities like food, energy, manufactured goods are trucked in from other areas, most of that money paid for those things leaves the community, the trucking in and out makes heavy use of the road because the animals have to be shipped, that business really doesn't necessarily contribute to road re-building in the community. And if it was a very large enterprice there may have been tax breaks as part of the negotiating to bring it in for instance. Then if subsidies are paid they may go to the corporate executives meanwhile there may even be EPA fines. Our tax dollars, those subsidies to produce food don't even benefit the community...

            •  I'm sorry? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, dianem, terrypinder, sethtriggs

              I do not think it is possible to run a sanitary, healthy CAFO

              I am a CAFO. I am also a small family farm. All of my sheep are pasture fed and very healthy. You need to do some research regarding what exactly a CAFO is and what the various regulations are that require you to be CAFO licensed before slandering all of us off. Thank you.

              •  The garden variety definition of a CAFO (0+ / 0-)

                Is a barn containing 5000 pigs. I am sure you qualify under some administrative regulation, however, the administrative regulation version of CAFO and the garden variety definition of CAFO are two very different things.

                Good on you for raising sheep. What breed? One of my better friends is starting out with Icelandics, starting a farm is difficult, but she is preservering.

            •  I think it's possible (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger

              A sanitary, healthy CAFO would probably be possible, depending on your version of "healthy". The problem is that as of now there aren't regulations requiring that the CAFOs be sanitary, so anyone who spends extra to make theirs sanitary has to compete with those who shit all over the environment and the people nearby their stinking shitponds.

              Maybe there should be a law where the owner of a CAFO has to live near it.

              I have seen chicken CAFOs that process their waste in anerobic digesters which produces methane for fuel and improved fertilizer. When a carbon tax is implemented this energy (and the green credits) will make on-farm digesters cost effective. This process eliminates most of the noxious odors and produces excellent organic fertilizer which does not smell.

              "we must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization" - Al Gore

              by racerx on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:31:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Nothing. Being Amish or small scale means very (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, terrypinder, koNko, C Barr

            little here. Small producers can be "pigs".  

            It is mind boggling that factory animal meat production using the latest advances in science and farm management can create conditions more dangerous than those created by subsistence farmers.

            Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

            by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:53:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Agree with la motocyciste, it was, is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, miss SPED

            large stockyard operations gathering the animals in confined quarters for a period of time that spread disease, not the small producers whose animals are gathered and massed together there taken from their birth place into the stockyard confinement. Slaughter has always best been done nearer where the animals are raised. Legislation did away with that practice.

            I don't hate corporations and I don't believe that the majority of people who know about food politics hate corporations.

            There has been a systematic hollowing out of American family farms for decades now. Massive corporate farm aggregates with gains that do not filter back into the communities where farms are located accompanied by massive advertising campaigns that include the unquestioned claim that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world are accepted as normal food production and distribution. How many times do I hear that from someone who has never read the Farm Bill, or agrictulural legislaition in his/her state, let alone something like what came out from the USDA the other day, the 420 page document the USDA just put out on the NAIS cost benefit analysis.

            They might read the 30 page "high sell" on it and conclude it's OK. But there are 80 pages devoted to the horses species alone which raises questions and does not match the section in the 30 page highlight regarding this program's actual costs. In other words my real costs are not reflected in this document.

            It's not a surprise then that Vilsack is going around the country on listening sessions regarding this thing despite the fact that Bush signed on January 13th, the USDA/APHIS proposed rule in the Federal Register that would effectively mandate the first two stages of NAIS.

            Obama's administration is not so quick to implement it for many reasons.

            Regarding industrial ag some of the nation's family famers of these massive mono-crops contracted to corporate interests want out. They're in a cycle of debt.

            This is anecdotal, in my state alone:

            Over the last few decades, there have been several waves of bankruptcies among American
            farmers. Between 1986 and 2002, Oklahoma counted 500 farm-related suicides, as people
            reacted with despair to the on-going financial crisis in American agriculture.  (pdf)

            America's farmers face a crisis and corporate executives run CAFO's for profit not to feed the world.

            I'd like people to read something by hog farmer Walter Jeffries here (skip story to scroll down to read his response to the story). It's really a little too long to put here but I'll put it at the end of my comment for people on dial-up.

            It's very important to see the difference in what Walter does compared to what goes on in a CAFO. He's actually chastising the sensationalizing of the Smithfield story without defending Smithfield.

            It is very important to read that he is not defending the CAFO instead by explaining the errors in the reporting to an audience that doesn't connect where his/her food comes from, especially for city folk who deal with death in shrink wrapped packages. He's exposing what we all agree on, that there is no:

            defending their pollution of the water supply, the air, the horrible way that they raise animals, their worker conditions or anything they do

            For those on dial-up:

            Comment by Walter Jeffries:

            The linked to blogging is simply sensationalism. The broken pipe is literally nothing. Look at it. The entire pipe leads out into, not a lake, but a waste lagoon. The idea is to put the material into the lagoon and water evaporates so it condenses and can be managed better. The pipe is disconnected but the disconnect is out over the lagoon so it is still dumping in the lagoon - nothing to see there folks, let’s move on.

            Barrels full of bacteria? Huh? What I see in that photo is a crushed soda bottle. Perhaps he had another photo he meant to use but that is a pretty clear photograph of a pop bottle - Sprite perhaps? But speaking of bacteria, you do realize that good bacteria are a vital part of breaking down materials, like in compost, into nutrients that plants can use? That photo was pure emotional sensationalism. I’m not impressed.

            Dead pigs in a pile waiting to be moved. Again, nothing wrong. We’re looking for some thing real bad, not merely gross.

            Dead pigs being moved on cart. Well, you need to move them somehow. Are these perhaps even the same pigs before and after loading? Yes, it grosses you out if all you’ve ever dealt with is ‘clean’ cities but there’s a misnomer if there ever was one. Again, nothing wrong.

            Dead pigs in the methane digester. Well, yes, of course, that’s where you put them, in a compost pile or methane digester. That’s the right thing to be doing. Again, nothing wrong. Let’s move along.

            Dead pig out in the lagoon. Yeah, that one stinks, literally. These things happen though. So they produce 1 million pigs a year and the photographer managed to find that dead pig. Kind of hard to tell it is a pig. I wouldn’t have guessed from the photo but I’ll believe the blogger. Yet, what’s it going to do there?  Decompose? Yup, that’s what it will do. Not really that big a deal. Of course, it should be in the compost pile or in the methane digester.

            So, out of a million pigs there are going to be a few dead ones. This is reality, not a Disney movie. The numbers don’t impress me. This winter we lost five of our sows. They were old - they had begun as a group and died the same year. Death happens. I composted their bodies with fitting ritual - they’re sticks-and-stones-amists. They return to the Earth from whence we all came. Dust to dust and all that good organic stuff. The compost will fertilize fruit trees I will plant. The cycle of life continues. We raise 200 pigs on our small pasture based farm. Five died. At the Smithfield plant in Mexico they raise 1,000,000 pigs a year. If the ratio held true so that they were doing as well as a small farm we all say we want emulated then they would have 25,000 death pigs a year. Yowsa!

            That puts the numbers in perspective. There were only a few dead pigs in those photos, not 25,000 dead pigs. Remember, they’re producing about a million hogs a year. That’s a major city of people. Even if you divided 25,000 by 365 days in a year you’re still talking 68 dead pigs a day. That wasn’t 68 pigs so it wasn’t a day’s worth by that math. I count maybe a maximum of 20 pigs in all of those photos. Your count may vary, slightly, but not by much. It is hard to tell if perhaps some of those photos might be multiple shots of the same pigs which would reduce the count.

            There is death on the farm. If you grow vegetable crops you kill snakes, rabbits, birds, mice, deer and other animals when you plow, till, harvest and otherwise work the soil. If you raise livestock there will be some who die - not 100% are going to make it to the plate. The bodies should ideally be composted to return the nutrients to the soil. A methane digester is an alternative some places now also use to generate electricity and gas to produce their own energy. This is well and good.

            By now you think I’m here to defend Big Ag. I’m not. I’m trying to put some perspective on this, especially for city folk who deal with death in shrink wrapped packages. I am not defending CAFOs in the slightest - I do not like them at all. I am not defending their pollution of the water supply, the air, the horrible way that they raise animals, their worker conditions or anything they do. But let’s do accurate reporting rather than sensationalism. Articles like the above just cause a loss of credibility and lose the focus on what really matters.

            •  Nothing to see? (0+ / 0-)

              The idea is to put the material into the lagoon and water evaporates so it condenses and can be managed better. The pipe is disconnected but the disconnect is out over the lagoon so it is still dumping in the lagoon - nothing to see there folks, let’s move on

              Pollution of groundwater is not visible.  That part is true...

              The rest? Pure Smoke and Mirrors...

              It is not accurate reporting to ignore the pathway of groundwater...

              "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of every good Government" ~ Thomas Jefferson

              by watershed on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:41:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think what Walter is saying is that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger

                first, he agrees with us, factory farms are harmful. His point is that the story he is replying to hurts our cause because of its sensationalism. His may have been a poor choice of words contradicting that he agrees there is the matter of groundwater pollution when he wrote:

                I am not defending their pollution of the water supply .

                I've been acquainted with Walter for some years through NAIS so I feel compelled to speak up for him.  

                I, you, him, we all agree CAFOs pollute groundwater.

        •  I agree. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, RandomActsOfReason

          Keep saying it. Please.

          Only that day dawns to which we are awake... Henry David Thoreau

          by graycat13 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:26:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  true (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pletzs, badger, jxg, MD patriot

          And, theoretically, these enormous operations should make it easier to regulate health-wise. One location, rather than several hundred, should make it easier to ensure that standards are being kept up.

          Except that it hasn't worked.

          "They're telling us something we don't understand"
          General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

          by subtropolis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:02:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, it works fairly well (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, jxg, mochajava13, C Barr, Boisepoet

            We don't have a lot of food-bourne illness in this nation. It's headline news when we do. When is the last time you heard about an outbreak of trichinosis? Things that our ancestors took for granted have been limited to the point that most of us are comfortable eating a rare steak, government warnings notwithstanding.

            •  There is that 'plane crash' mentality to food biz (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, jxg, dianem, terrypinder, koNko

              Planes are constantly flying around every day without crashing. Sometimes a year will go by without fatalities on commercial airlines. Then unfortunately there's a fatal accident and for several days the media covers the story in-depth, everybody calls for the FAA to do a better job, and people decide not to fly because it is too dangerous.

              Despite the fact that the risk of dying in an auto accident is higher than in an airline crash, people will still get in the car, not buckle up, and drive faster than posted while talking on their cell, all while thinking that airplanes are very, very dangerous.  

              "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

              by Boisepoet on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:48:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Trichinosis comes from eating undercooked pork (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              subtropolis, koNko

              or wild game.

              And it spreads amongst pigs when they are fed raw garbage... like in Egypt.

              <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

              by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:05:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Trichinosis has been largely eradicated (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger, jxg, dianem, mochajava13

                in commercial pork and pig farms worldwide.  The vast majority of Trichinosis infections now come from wild game (mostly bear and boar).

                Irrational fear of Trichinosis still causes many people to completely overcook their pork dishes, which is really too bad.

                "Some cultures are defined by their relationship to cheese."

                by glynor on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:41:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You can get toxoplasmosis (7+ / 0-)

                from your cat, who can get it from eating mice. About 1/3 of humans have it with few ill effects, but it can be fatal to people with compromised immune systems, and can be extremely serious during pregnancy. You can also get it right out of your garden - it spreads in cat feces, and cats (ours anyway) love to garden.

                But don't repeat that in the pootie diaries.

                You can also get giardia from drinking water - in the middle of nowhere - contaminated by deer, elk, mountain goats or sheep. You can get tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease from ticks hosted by wild animals. You can get Hanta virus from mouse shit, and AIDS and Ebola probably involve mutations in monkeys. You can still get bubonic plague from rat fleas in some places, or you can get antibiotic-resistant TB in Russian prisons from the inmates, malaria from mosquitoes, or schistosomiasis from snails, so forget the escargot. And then there's rabies.

                You're not paranoid - the world really is trying to kill you.

                Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

                by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:17:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Want to know what is out there next? (5+ / 0-)

                  Check out the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative that tracks unusual disease in bush meat hunters in Africa or follows infections of workers in live animal markets in China.

                  They are even using text messaging in the jungle to locate dead or sick animals with unusual signs or symptoms.  And, yes, there is cell phone signal in the jungle.  How weird is that?

                  Rome is burning and they do not even smell the smoke.

                  by Mote Dai on Tue May 05, 2009 at 05:01:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Hey... that is is a pretty cool tool. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mote Dai

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:19:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  need to put an "r" in your link though (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mote Dai

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:21:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks for posting the right link (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      bronte17, terrypinder

                      It is pretty cool. I wish I had thought of it! The official name of it is Frontline SMS.

                      These bush hunters don't even have electric power 24 hours a day and they have freaking cell phones!  At night, people with generators will allow people to charge their phones for a small fee.  To cover the cost of sending the text message, the system recognizes the text, and then immediately sends a credit back to the person's phone.  It is this sort of creative thinking that will lead to uncovering the next big potential pandemic before it can become a pandemic.  

                      Rome is burning and they do not even smell the smoke.

                      by Mote Dai on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:38:26 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  I've got a great funny photo (0+ / 0-)

                  I dare not post on Daily Kos.

                  Some people have no sense of humour.

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 01:59:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  What pigs in Egypt? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                subtropolis, mariachi mama

                The government is, as I understand it, trying to exterminate them. In the face of opposition from hog farmers, who see it as Muslims attacking Christians rather than any kind of public health measure.

                Revenge is a dish best served with mayonnaise, and those little cheesy things on sticks. -- Osric the Loopy

                by Shaviv on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:23:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sigh...the hogs live in the first floor of hovels (0+ / 0-)

                  while entire families live on the second floor right over top these hogs. In densely populated urban centers.

                  These are the Coptics and they make up about 10% of Egypt's population. They are very poor. They go out every morning and pick up the trash in the cities and bring it back to feed to these hogs.

                  It is nasty and unclean and filthy and is a health hazard. Egypt says they are going to establish hog farms in the rural areas outside the urban centers. And that is just as it should be.

                  <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                  by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:18:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  an "outbreak of trichinosis"?!? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger

              Trichinosis is caused by a parasite, not a virus. And the dearth of cases—compared to our ancestors—can mostly be put down to smarter food preparation habits.

              "They're telling us something we don't understand"
              General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

              by subtropolis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:13:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You do have a lot of grossly overweight people (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              terrypinder, Sue Sturgis

              Who got that way with the help of steroids and antibiotics.

              If I may make what may be an odd remark, when I lived in the US in the 1980's people were much healthier and relatively few people were overweight.

              After an absence of 6 years, I visited the US in 2002 and immediately noticed a change, and particularly affecting Asian Americans of younger generaion raised in the USA verses their cousins in China.

              Not just the difference in basic weight, but in body type.  Cousins on both sides got much better food than their parents so both were considerably taller, but the Americans where much bulkier, and in some cases, with otherwise active and healty young people.

              I remarked upon this to my now American friend who works in biosciences and he replied "Steroids. That is the difference."

              I was skeptical but now am convinced since in some areas of China where Western style poultry and meat production has become the predominant local supply, I see the identical effect.

              For example, if you fly from Shanghai to Beijing and compare equally well-fed children or young adults, the difference is immediately noticeable.

              In Shanghai, we eat much less pork and poultry, and more of it still comes from grazed livestock.  I'm convinced my friend is right, steriods make humans grow abnormally just as chicken or pigs.

              We are what we eat.

              Therfore, Mrs koNko I agreed when she became pregnant to only eat organic food despite the higher cost and we think it was wise because our daughter is healthy and normal, a bit smaller and less fat than some other babies but maybe that's a good thing.

              I don't want to poison my daughter with junk, she's a child not lab rat.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 01:34:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The complete solution involves techniques (8+ / 0-)

          based on humane animal husbandry, unbiased veterinary science and environmental stewardship. It may not look like what we think it should look like, but it will be better for the animals and us. Cutting "efficiencies" (brought by overcrowding, feeding recycled animal parts, using genetically identical or similar animals en mass, antibiotic usage) will be part of the solution. Changing practices on substandard family operations will be part as well. There's much work to be done, first we have to agree there is a problem.

          Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

          by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:36:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't assume (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, jxg, the fan man

            The last solution to reducing the amount of disease in animals involved pumping them full of antibiotics and creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. The next solution will be different... but don't assume that it will be "better" for the animals. Or us.

            •  I think that the fan man used the word "solution" (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, terrypinder, the fan man

              in the sense of an answer that actually works to our benefit.

              moderation in everything ... including moderation

              by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:56:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  What I mean is we have preexisitng (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, dianem, terrypinder

              notions on what a farm for raising animals will look like. Solutions to factory farms may be different than our idealized vision.

              For instance, I know an organic farmer who raises less than 100 hogs annual. He uses his own farm raised grain to feed them. He does not let his hogs outside of the barn (they have fresh air and sunlight, but no access to the soil). He says there was a disease on the property many years ago which can be soil borne making it hazardous for the pigs to go outside. Now I thought he was overly cautious, but it was his farm, his pigs. It wasn't what I would consider optimal conditions, but the pigs had plenty of room, light, air, clean water, wholesome food and clean stalls.

              Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

              by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:53:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That sound idealized to me (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                the fan man

                Hogs in comfy stalls with plenty of fresh air and sunlight. I'm afraid that a more likely solution would be something with animals hooked up to machines that help them grow and never being allowed to move at all. <shudder>

                •  Yeah, I know, but not letting them outside (0+ / 0-)

                  meant he couldn't get organic certification (at the time). A lot of people (myself included) think animals must be kept outside in order for their treatment to be humane.

                  Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

                  by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:57:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My dogs would disagree (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    the fan man

                    Especially the littlest one. He only goes out for a few minutes a day. At night, it's too dangerous (he's small enough to be eaten by an owl). During the daytime he barks too much. He lives a good life. I don't actually think much of people who keep their pets outside all the time, to tell you the truth.

        •  Excellent comment. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, terrypinder

          One feature I’ve noticed of diaries on agribusiness is the 'if we only had more small farms' solution. In the Boise area we had lots of farms get sold to land developers over the last 10 years, and it seems every time there was a personal glimpse into the reason for the sale it came down to two things:  1) The land was now worth more than any future crops so why not sell out and retire (and conversely, too expensive for anyone else to buy to continue farming operations).  2) The children of the farmer didn't want to farm so there was no one to carry on the family business.

          I realize that the 'family farm' is a romanticized concept but the reality is that we will never return to that time in America when small farms dotted the landscape. The economic reality is not there for this to occur on a widespread basis, and American consumers have become too accustomed to cheap food.  Where the focus needs to be is on anti-trust issues of large agri-business, and regulation of the business using sound science and not emotional hyperbole.

          Disclaimer: I work in agri-biz.

          "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

          by Boisepoet on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:33:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Toon

            The number of farms in the New England region has actually increased over the past decade (based on Dept. of Ag. numbers). And during that time dairy farms have been consolidating.

            What's up? A steady rise in small-scale farm operations.

            Don't assume you know the future.

            •  That's interesting (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mochajava13, Boisepoet

              but I'd want to know whether those farms are the principle or sole source of income/support and what kind of economics (profit/loss, sales) is involved.

              And, for example, if those were mostly hobby farms and by some measure (calories/acre?) were producing vastly less than the operations they displaced, that wouldn't necessarily be a good or sustainable trend.

              Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

              by badger on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:26:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Total number of farms are up even nationwide (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, terrypinder

              But if you even scratch the data you will find that most of those new farms were in the small farm category that produced less than $1000 in total output. Most of those new farms are apparently 'hobby' farms where the people working them have other jobs that support them. At my job there are several ‘farmers’. They raise pigs, chickens, cows, and grow hay and vegetables. They sell to friends and in some cases local farmer markets. Several have just started in the past year. Though they may be decreasing the total amount that they buy from the supermarket, they are still dependent on it for many products. What these new ‘farmers’ are doing is not even subsistence agriculture.

              Don’t assume that subsistence agriculture will feed 6, 7 or even 10 billion people. It won’t. Without substantially increasing the amount of acreage in use (which brings another set of problems), intensive agriculture methods are going to be the only way to feed an ever increasing population.  

              "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

              by Boisepoet on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:25:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Uh (0+ / 0-)

                Just about every "family farm" in America, including those working thousands of acres growing corn and soybeans in Iowa, have family income coming in that isn't from the farm.

                Sorry dudes, I live in perhaps the most innovative agricultural area in the country (northern Vermont), and the farms around here, like Pete's Greens, are not hobby farms.

                Don't assume you know everything about agriculture in this country (much less, say, western Europe).

                •  I'm not saying small farms aren't nice, but to (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, terrypinder

                  feed the world I don't think they are the practical solution. I also never said anything about knowing everything. Actually, I made a comment about Boise and you jumped in to tell me just how wrong I was. Hmmmm. As for Vermont:

                  2007        2002
                  Number of Farms 6,984   6,571
                  Farms acres 1,233,313  1,244,909

                  So farms went up in number, acreage went down. So either the farmers are either having to intensify the yields or they are producing less product.

                  Let's look at farms by value of sales:

                  Less than $1,000 1,778
                  $1,000 to $2,499 803
                  $2,500 to $4,999 695
                  $5,000 to $9,999 841
                  $10,000 to $19,999 710
                  $20,000 to $24,999 192
                  $25,000 to $39,999 365
                  $40,000 to $49,999 132
                  $50,000 to $99,999 390
                  $100,000 to $249,999 473
                  $250,000 to $499,999 314
                  $500,000 or more 291

                  Yes there are some farms that pump out the crops but the majority of farms do not appear to be concerns that would provide a primary income. Now does it help the situation if we all grew something with whatever land we have, yes. That is why I've quadrupled the amount of veggies I'm planting this year in my suburban garden.

                  The point is that to feed the world we cannot look to the mythical past when the family farm was the foundation of a great America and all our problems were non-existent. The answer is to harness technology and public policy to ensure an adequate food supply at minimal environmental cost for the ever-breeding humanity that we are a part of.

                  "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

                  by Boisepoet on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:46:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Agribusiness make it worse (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder, mariachi mama

          Animals raised in close proximity without fresh air and contaminating their feed with fecies is an inherently higher risk.

          Here in China we did not have significant problems with poultry virus outbreaks until corporate farming using mass-production methods appeared in Southern China in the 1990's.

          Traditional (and still predominant in some regions) Chinese farming of poultry and swine uses what Americans would call "organic, free-range" methods without the use of antibiotics and steroids that are typical of mass produced poultry and livestock. These used to be "just chickens"; now they are "expensive chickens" compared to the mass-produced crap from US, Austrailian or Domestic sources.

          In very simple terms, the mass production methods produce conditions unhealthy for animals and the use of drugs introduced into the food chain accelerates the process of viral mutation producing more virilent strains.

          I'm not disagreeing that virus have been an ever-present problem, but the mass-production of livestock is an un-natural process that produces freak animals, freak consumers and freak virus that increase the threat.

          Where I live most chickens are "free range" although mass-produced poultry from the US, Australia and domestic cources are available at lower prices.

          If you compare the size, appearance, and quality of these foods the contrast is striking; mass-produced chickens look bloated, pale and unhealty, and are pretty tasteless. This is not surprising; if you were raised in a cramped cage without fresh air and sunlight, force-fed and injected with steroids, you'd probably fit the preceeding description.

          You can see the same in the USA, compare a comerical produced chicken to a free-range and decide for yourself.

          Ironically, the best chicken produced in China is only consumed locally because it is delivered to market live and becuase foreigners look at our small, scrawny birds and think they are unnaturally  small and unhealthy - exactly the opposite is true, bloated chickens the size of small dogs bursting at the seams of their skin are the unnatural, freakish product consumers have been brainwashed into thinking desireable.

          "Farmers we like" can improve their methods to produce more healthy products; huge factory farms have some inherent probelms my design that can only be solved by taking like sock out of wharehouses and letting them get a little fresh air and sumshine.

          BTW, I am totally supportive of international standards and regulations and say so in each remark posted here.  However, I wonder how mass-producers would react to the classification of certian production methods as risky and undesirable, downgrading their lousy products.

          Your thoughts?

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:25:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You could replace China with Mexico (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, koNko

            in this comment and it would be equally true.

            I'm sorry about our little diplomatic dust up and thank you very much for the very generous aid China sent to Mexico.

            •  No problem (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              terrypinder

              We also complain about discrimination ..... and sometimes it true>

              Long time no see, how you doing?

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 02:02:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mariachi mama

              Over here that little dust-up wasn't such a big issue, the Mexican vistors that were quarenteend were from a flight with one victim (the one reported from Hong Kong) that became ill afterward, and yesterday an Air Mexico flight was arrainged to return them home after the 7 day waiting period.

              It was probably a good thing the Mexican Embassy protested because those people got put-up in a 5 Star hotel at Chinese government expense, so it may have been a lot better than sitting in the hospital for a week.

              Also yesterday, a flight returning some Chinese from Mexico to China got the same treatment, with a big media show about how the plane was isolated and passengers immedisatly quarentened.

              I agree with your other comment that the WHO, USA, Mexico and Canada deserve a lot of credit for a quick response and job well done to contain this, it's a good sign of progress.

              Actually, Margeret Chan remarked that it was fortunate this had started in Mexico verses elswhere because the government responeded so quickly and effectively to the situation which could have been much worse.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Wed May 06, 2009 at 08:36:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's alll for the media (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                koNko

                Remember SARS and how China fought back..Mexico is a much smaller economy and depends on tourism and there is a lot of prejudice against Mexicans in the US..Chinese, too.

                •  Sure. (0+ / 0-)

                  I realize the situation in Mexico and that's why I spoke-up about the NAFTA thing, that's totally rediculous and could be damaging not just to the Mexican economy but also the people because it promotes prejudice.

                  Actually, the SARS crisis really had a profound effect on China because it lasted months and even following the lifting of travel bans, business travel & tourism industry was very depressed.

                  Ultimately, it had a very positive effect in terms of public awareness and government policy.

                  For example, now, according with new regulations every company must have policy, procedure and a response plan to monitor employees and visitors in cases where epidemics and pandemics are declared and restrict unnessasary travel, with records of those traveling on company business so there is tracability in case someone gets infected.

                  In our company we have pretty strict monitoring and internal rules.  In this period we measure temperature of everyone entering/leaving the building (IR thermomitor), I must check the health status of every department staff member daily and if someone gets ill they must report it for follow-up; we are not allowed to just let someone call in sick, they must go to a doctor assigned by the company for check-up and health cert before returning to work. If you have to travel, you must get a quick check-up before returning and wear a face mask for 7 days.

                  Some people think it is over-kill but I think it is good because it's a public health issue and China is crowded so there's a high potential for epidemic if measures are not taken.

                  I think the Mexican Government did a great job and took the right measures, not just for public health, but to protect the economy from a prolonged effect. Obviously the economic effects are already apperent and the timing could not be worse, but the quick reaction should help to minimize damage.

                  This was recognized and commented on by WHO Margeret Chan and I think one reason she took the trouble to do so is she was the Secretary of Health in Hong Kong during the SARS crisis and had to face the full public consequences in every respect. I think this experience also influanced her insistance of raising the alarm quickly so government would react and also giving credit where credit is due.

                  Well, hope for the best.

                  See you.

                  Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

                  by koNko on Thu May 07, 2009 at 12:31:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Smithfield Flu (22+ / 0-)

      Calling the flu Smithfield Flu (or Hog Flat Flu) would help focus attention where it belongs. Unlikely that the CDC or media would do this, but still a potentially powerful way to force the issue into the open.

    •  Digg the story here (5+ / 0-)

      Blogging for a Progressive South // www.southernstudies.org

      by ProgressiveSouth on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:20:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stim pork (0+ / 0-)
      Good thing they took the money to study hog farm siting out of the Stimulus Bill.

      /sarcasm

    •  not there yet (5+ / 0-)

      but this is another chink in their armor. What will blow factory farms away is public exposure of the sheer nasty that is known as corporate run factory farming. TV commercials, health risk reports, the links to swine flu, mad cow, and even bed bugs that come from the beef, poultry and pork factory farms. Once the public ties those two images together, instead of those cosmetically altered cuts of meat in the weekly supermarket circular? Thats when you'll see the kind of public outcry from mothers who don't want to feed that stuffto their kids, and consumers, previously unaware, who plain refuse to eat from an animal that was forced to lay in its own waste for most of its life.

      The Ag-Industrial corporations of the world built this industry based on the ignorance of the "mindless eaters".(i think thats how Kissinger put it, right?) Their business model relies a lot on how little we consumers know about their business. A lot like the mob, except the mob can't spend billions on public relations to help pretty up the pig. So while we see a nice cutlet of the other white meat, some poor black kid from rural NC is working summers in sweltering heat, helping slaughter animals in varying conditions of health. Some of them, downright unhealthy. But meat is meat, and profit is profit, according to the bottom line. Meanwhile, many miles away, Upton Sinclair crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish lake.

      •  Pork's Dirty Secret- spread the word (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lincoln deschain

        This would be a good time to expose some of the filth of the factory hoggers:

        Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs -- anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

        Article on Smithfield's pollution

        "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

        by MD patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:13:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  a panepidemic and the state of U.S. healthcare (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keikekaze, petral

      Nicholas Kristof write about this his op-ed piece on Sunday.

      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      I also wrote about this on Texas Kaos today.

      http://www.texaskaos.com/...  

      I provided a link to your diary.

    •  Need better design and regulation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keikekaze

      Those hog farms really need to be reform. It's simply dangerous in so many level.

    •  I thought the SC governor had something to (0+ / 0-)

      do with the Swine gene..

    •  I just knew that it came from a red state. (0+ / 0-)

      I had to think hard about letting my child go to college in one.  Who would she have for friends?  What if she actually dated one?

    •  Read the N&O Boss Hog series at Pulitzer.org (0+ / 0-)

      Boss Hog by Pat Stith, Joby Warrick
      and Melanie Sill, N&O Staff Writers won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the series that began February 19, 1995.

      http://www.pulitzer.org/...

      This was the first in-depth coverage of the pollution problems centered at North Carolina factory farms where waste disposal practices are so awful, the factory farms routinely sicken their neighbors.

      The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. -Howard Zinn

      by skywriter on Tue May 05, 2009 at 05:45:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great Catch + Great Diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mariachi mama

      May I suggest the Obama Administration work more closely with the WHO and WTO to promote global standards?

      US cooperation with international bodies reached a low point is the Bush Administration and was one of the motivators for me to join this site.

      Regardless of where one stands politically, the fact is we share one planet and one environment and it is beyond the control of any single nation to protect the planet and human health and welfare.

      Promoting global standards and working with global organizations it the best way to address these problems and the US should play a leading rather than obstructing role.

      One World, for better or worse.

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:27:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes (18+ / 0-)

        actual evidence, complete with researched reports. it is all that everyone who was arguing against the other alleged connection asked for. we weren't being shills, we were doing our due dilligence!

        (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

        by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:48:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Great diary, but I take exception to these lines. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jxg, murrayewv, terrypinder, skohayes

        In addition, the industry's heavy reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines immunologically pressures the virus to mutate. And the flies and other pests attracted to such operations may be able to pick up viruses and carry them for miles.

        Mutations pretty much occur at a set rate.  But the presence of the vaccines and pharmaceuticals results in a higher survival rate, ie selective pressure for mutations which confer resistance.  If pig to human transmission is respiratory, from aerosol droplets exhaled by pigs which are then inhaled by workers in close proximity, then transmission by flies isn't a factor.

        moderation in everything ... including moderation

        by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:45:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For more on swine flu vaccines & mutations... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MD patriot, C Barr, Toon

          ... follow my link to HSUS and read the article from the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research they provide. Quoting from its conclusion:

          Although the commercial [swine influenza virus] vaccines used in this study did prove beneficial in reducing clinical signs and lung lesions, they failed to significantly reduce virus shedding after a challenge. This failure could be critical in swine influenza epidemiology, possibly increasing the risk of infection for susceptible animals and humans and favoring genetic mutation and the generation of virus variants.

          The point about flies and other pests speaks not so much to animal to human transmission but the risk of fast spreading of viruses -- including new virus mutations -- to other area farms. Because as we see in Veracruz and North Carolina, these facilities tend to be concentrated in certain areas.

          I hope that's helpful.

          •  Mutations are errors in replication (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jxg, terrypinder, Toon

            of genetic material.  I don't see how a vaccine would encourage this.  Mutations can be measured by the number of mutations per a certain quantity of new viruses churned out by infected cells.  

            favoring genetic mutation and the generation of virus variants

            I believe what they are saying here is that in a herd of vaccinated pigs, the original viral variant is at a disadvantage because the vaccinated pig's immune system already is prepared to do battle with that variant.  Mutations though could produce new variants which would be able to evade the pig's immune response.  In this case that genetic mutation and the resulting virus variant would be "favored" in that the resulting variant could succesfully highjack the porcine cell machinary to manufacture more of itself.

            Having high numbers of confined pigs together increases the chances for a new variant in that with more infected pigs you have more viral replications which means more mutations per unit of time (not more per replication).  Interestingly the quote you provide states that the vaccine doesn't prevent infection, but instead reduces the animal's symptoms without slowing viral replication.

            moderation in everything ... including moderation

            by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:27:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes but (10+ / 0-)

      who knows if this would have happened if people hadn't asked if there was a connection.  Now we know there is.

      •  And this (5+ / 0-)

        diary includes a couple of things that were included in my initial diary, such as the pew information and how pigs are the perfect genetic breeding ground for hybrid viruses.

      •  Do you honestly think (1+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        jxg
        Hidden by:
        Cenobyte

        that epidemiologists decide what evidence to pursue based on what you post on DailyKos? Hopefully, their scientific commitment is bigger than your ego.

        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:04:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  NO (6+ / 0-)

          Oh geez, not at all.  I meant the piece I quoted from and was made aware of the large CAFO's in Mexico.  I thought it was a legitimate question to ask and my only intention was to bring it to the attention of others.  I make no claims of being  an expert I just happen to have taken this up as an issue I'm interesting in learning more about, CAFO's, sustainable farming and how food issues impact not only our environment but our health.

          Officials from the CDC and USDA will likely arrive in Mexico soon to help investigate the deadly new influenza virus that managed to jump from pigs to people in a previously unseen mutated form that can readily spread among humans.

          One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

          But me?  That wasn't my point at all.  People, more than one person.  I don't know how you even got that from my comment.  I have no disillusion about my impact as a blogger, which is pretty non existent.

          •  Ignore Random... this subject gets (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MD patriot, Ellinorianne, CanyonWren

            under his skin for some reason and he makes personal attacks.

            <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

            by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:12:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, the way Ellinorianne chose to respond (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              terrypinder, Ellinorianne

              is something you could learn from. By clarifying her intent, she made it evident I had misread her comment.

              In contrast, you refuse to either acknowledge the opinions of those who differ from you, or ever to acknowledge error on any count.

              You enjoy perpetuating conflict and fostering anger, while others choose to promote understanding and seek common ground.

              One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:17:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And you, once again, are taking a diary off topic (0+ / 0-)

                with your deliberate attacks on other posters. You've picked up certain community norms here and you've incorporated them into your own attack arsenal.

                FWIW... I didn't attack anyone... just encouraged ellinorianne to let your personal attacks roll off her shoulders. If anyone needs to step back from a sense of entitlement... it's you.

                <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:25:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Both her comments and my responses were on topic (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  terrypinder

                  all of your comments on this thread, to date, haven't even mentioned the word "flu", they have been all about me. Talk about needing to step back and get some perspective; this discussion is about a public health issue, not your aspirations to be an American Idol judge.

                  One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:29:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I appreciate this (4+ / 0-)

              because I know you mean well and I also responded by hopefully not taking the comment personally.  We can all get worked up over issues, it's because we care and are passionate about our beliefs and our ideals.

          •  Apologies, you are correct (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, Ellinorianne, CanyonWren

            I misconstrued your comment in light of others on this topic, and it was unfair of me to lump you in with folks who seek to exploit this public health issue to promote their ideological agendas.

            Let's focus on supporting good science - no matter where it leads, even if that ends up being somewhere that doesn't fit in our individual views of the world. And let's not jump to conclusions on any issue before the facts are in.

            I think we can both support that sentiment regardless of our opinions on other things.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:15:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No worries (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CanyonWren, RandomActsOfReason

              Sometimes I tend to have that happen and I have to clarify, I don't mind doing so, that's how we learn from one another and get our ideas across.

              The connection has given people the opportunity to discuss factory farming and it's bringing such operations to the notice of the general public.  

              There are plenty of reasons to oppose CAFO's but this certainly doesn't help and the scariest part about this issue is that we have no idea which way the virus can go.  

              If it had turned out that there was no connection, I would be the first to say, ah, well, I still think it was worth investigating.  I prefer the truth to the things that support my agenda.  I tend to let reality form my opinions rather than attempting to form reality around my views.

        •  you could have worded that comment (6+ / 0-)

          differently, you know.

          (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

          by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:18:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Point taken. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, Ellinorianne

            I shouldn't have lumped her comment in with others who have sought to exploit this public health issue to pursue unrelated ideological agendas. But, if we're going to be completely honest about this, the support for this diary comes primarily not, as many here hypocritically state, from a respect for science and the scientific method; rather, it comes from those who made up their minds before any data was in, and who cherry pick reports that confirm their pre-existing bias.

            It is important to note that, over the past couple of weeks, the number of alleged culprits pointed to is legion, and there is, of yet, no definitive consensus among epidemiologists about the primary cause, let alone any evidence linking this outbreak to factory farms.

            As I have repeatedly noted, there are plenty of reasons to opposed factory farms on their merits (or lack thereof), and to support humane, sustainable, healthier alternatives.

            But most of the folks here are reacting thoughtlessly and emotionally - just as right-wingers would if it turned out that the first carrier of the flu to the US were an illegal immigrant.

            I believe that, in the long run, supporting science, reason, journalistic integrity and accountability, and, above all, patience and giving researchers a chance to do their work, and for public health officials to focus on their work, will be better for us all than hijacking every incident to promote an ideological agenda.

            YMMV. In any case, I shouldn't have personalized my response to Ellinorianne, that was wrong.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:13:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  And here you are... back again with nastiness (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MD patriot

          What is it about this subject that gets your goat and makes you attack people over superfluous things?

          <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

          by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:10:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What is it about you (0+ / 0-)

            that causes you to stalk folks who's opinions you dislike? Learn from the exchange Ellinoranne and I just had. She clarified her intent, and I apologized for misconstruing it. No harm, no foul, and we both probably learned something.

            Compare and contrast with your enraged flailing about all the time on Daily Kos.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:18:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Grab that hyperbole much Random? (0+ / 0-)

              Stalking you is NOT the highlight of my day. I've been in exactly two or three diaries today and just happened to stumble across your attack on ellinorianne.

              You flatter yourself too much with your own self-importance that I would bother to stalk you.

              <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

              by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:29:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  It will need to be confirmed (5+ / 0-)

      But yes, this is exactly the kind of research that is needed.  I have been very critical of many of the other Smithfield diaries precisely because they lack this sort of analysis.

      An open mind gets filled with crap.

      by Empty Vessel on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:19:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bbbbbut... (26+ / 0-)

    The CEO of Smithfield was on CNBC and assured me that there was no way that this flu came from any of his farms and that the whole industry was perfectly safe.  He wouldn't lie, right?

    [Journalism] is media agnostic. - Kos

    by RichM on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:38:39 AM PDT

    •  His extraordinary claims required no evidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MD patriot, Words In Action

      But shills lapped up his assurances just like everybody does when they need a towel to use for drying behind their ears.  Sometimes a CEO is just a liar.  Oftentimes in fact.  Anything for a buck is the definition of a CEO.

      "If the thorn of the rose is the thorn in your side Then you're better off dead if you haven't yet died."

      by whitewash on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hang on. (7+ / 0-)

        We still don't know where it originated.

        Lets get the evidence first.  The article above brings Smithfield into it, but from what I've read there's been no connection to Smithfield yet.

        Maybe there will be.  Right now This Hog Slat, Inc. seems to be the point of origination.

        Claiming it was from Smithfield seems to be the extraordinary claim at this point.

        I hads a 401K but the economy ated it.

        by nightsweat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:21:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Is the whole industry perfectly safe? (0+ / 0-)

          Nope.  Not according to the commentor above.

          "If the thorn of the rose is the thorn in your side Then you're better off dead if you haven't yet died."

          by whitewash on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:26:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not what I'm saying. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, mochajava13

            In fact the industry is pretty gross and disgusting, but I'm a believer in only assigning blame to those who are actually responsible for the adverse action.

            I hads a 401K but the economy ated it.

            by nightsweat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:48:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was assigning blame to a bald-face lying CEO (0+ / 0-)

              If the industry wasn't safe then the lying CEO shouldn't have asserted that it was.  Makes one think he's lie for a buck.  In fact that's what the lying CEO is doing.  The lying CEO is lying for a buck, and fuck anybody who might die because of it.  Unless of course you would care to rebut the above comment regarding the lying CEO.  Of course we should probably keep level heads and ignore the lie of the CEO and wait until the news is comforting and safe for us.  That way swine sales won't go into the toilet and the lying CEO can still get his money.  We should temper our rage at the lying CEO because we don't have what we refer to as "all the facts."  We should meekly squeak at those who put forth a good deal of the facts and go sit in the corner and wait until the all clear sounds.  "All the facts!" we'll exclaim, and there will be great celebration amongst those of us who lived, including the lying CEO who probably is a vegetarian in the first place knowing what he knows!  "All the facts," we'll sing!  "Proud to be an American, where at least we have all the facts!"  "All the facts," we'll joyously chant, knowing that we waited like two pimply-faced teens for the day of sweet consummation!  Down to the church of "All the Facts" we'll run!  Ah sweet swine sales returned!  All rejoice All the Facts!

              Hooray!

              "If the thorn of the rose is the thorn in your side Then you're better off dead if you haven't yet died."

              by whitewash on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:27:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Both Hog Slat & Smithfield appear to be connected (3+ / 0-)

          One in the U.S., and one in Mexico. Viral evolution is clearly a complex process that even the experts don't seem to fully understand yet.

        •  To me the larger point (4+ / 0-)

          is that whether the waste lagoon in Mexico is the source of this flu outbreak or not, the focus on the possibility has brought attention to all the big problems associated with factory hog farming: environmental damage, health issues including neurological harm for people living near farms, intense cruelty visited on millions of animals.

          As gchaucer points out it seems when people and lawmakers feel threatened by the immediate harm of something like a flu pandemic they start to look for a cause, but environmental harm is ordinarily overlooked.

          A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

          by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:38:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Flu does not like humid, warm lagoons (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, terrypinder, mochajava13

            it requires living cells from a compatible host to survive and reproduce. And that has been the problem with most of the Smithfield diaries, the focus on the lagoon as a source of mutant flu virus, when in fact the virus isn't likely to be in the lagoon and can't survive more than an hour or two if it is.

            Now, lots of OTHER nasties like warm, humid, fecal lagoons, including bacteria and some other viruses. They are a serious environmental problem. But if flu is spreading from factory farms, it is directly from the pigs.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:39:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The Smithfield Veracruz factory farm uses (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samanthab

              a biodigester to recycle dead hogs into electricity.

              If there was a virus that swept through the sow barn(s), the aborting would have been astronomical and might have overloaded the facility.

              There are pictures and the background story on the web of that Granjas Carroll Veracruz factory farm and they show the horrible conditions. It also has the background of the local politics involved with this.

              <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

              by bronte17 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:41:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Evidently influenza in pigs is respiratory, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, the fan man, mochajava13

            not gastro-intestinal.  Birds pass avian flu viruses in their feces but it's not typical in pigs.  The fecal waste holding ponds are environmental disasters but probably not related to the flu.

            moderation in everything ... including moderation

            by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:50:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not On CNBC Where They'd Call Him Out (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, MD patriot, forgore, samanthab

      like they did the risky credit markets.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:07:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I watched his interview on CNBC. His (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr

      performance was very 1970's. I thought of Robert Kline's old routine about the Hair Club for Men's commercial featuring Cy Sperling, the president of the HCM. Cy's classic line was "Why would I lie to you, I'm the president of the company?!" The joke of course was "Sure, what possible motivation would he have to lie?"

      The pres of Smithfield really went "all in" over this. If it turns out there is evidence of viral infection, he and his company are toast.

      Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

      by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:07:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I loves me some BBQ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, Pris from LA

    But I heard a rumor that the Memphis Blues Festival was underattended due to fear of H1N1.

    Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

    by Benintn on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:42:49 AM PDT

  •  First: Jesse Helms. Now: This (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minerva, snazzzybird, forgore

    Sampson County, N.C., is two counties over. I'm going there this afternoon.

    rofl

    Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man. --A. E. Housman

    by Wom Bat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:46:49 AM PDT

  •  california's prop 2 never looked so smart (8+ / 0-)

    as right now. time to renegotiate NAFTA for some decent environmental standards before it kills more people.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:50:42 AM PDT

  •  Swine flu is also a great euphemism... (8+ / 0-)

    ...for what happened to America during the Reagan-Bush era.

    We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

    by Minerva on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:57:02 AM PDT

  •  A good article in Newsweek (20+ / 0-)

    It ends with this:

    A wiser set of pig-related actions would turn to the strange ecology we have created to feed meat to our massive human population. It is a strange world wherein billions of animals are concentrated into tiny spaces, breeding stock is flown to production sites all over the world and poorly paid migrant workers are exposed to infected animals. And it's going to get much worse, as the world's once poor populations of India and China enter the middle class. Back in 1980 the per capita meat consumption in China was about 44 pounds a year: it now tops 110 pounds. In 1983 the world consumed 152 million tons of meat a year. By 1997 consumption was up to 233 million tons. And the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that by 2020 world consumption could top 386 million tons of pork, chicken, beef and farmed fish.

    This is the ecology that, in the cases of pigs and chickens, is breeding influenza. It is an ecology that promotes viral evolution. And if we don't do something about it, this ecology will one day spawn a severe pandemic that will dwarf that of 1918.

    http://www.newsweek.com/...

    "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

    by Catte Nappe on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:58:20 AM PDT

  •  Excellent, excellent diary (15+ / 0-)

    Well-researched, well-written, calm, authoritative, and provides invaluable factual information.  

    I love diaries that educate me not only on facts and context but on how to gauge other "infotainment"-style writings about topical issues.

  •  To add to your piece, in 2004 (10+ / 0-)

    This rapid evolution posed the "potential for pandemic influenza emergence in North America", Vincent said last year. Webby, too, warned in 2004 that pigs in the US are "an increasingly important reservoir of viruses with human pandemic potential". One in five US pig workers has been found to have antibodies to swine flu, showing they have been infected, but most people have no immunity to these viruses.

    Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

    by borkitekt on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:07:07 AM PDT

  •  NY Times looks at effect (11+ / 0-)

    of living near factory hog farms.

    Paul Isbell of Houston, Miss., started experiencing seizures after a hog farm moved in down the road. Jeremiah Burns of Hubbardston, Mich., now carries a six-pound oxygen tank with him. Kevin Pearson of Meservey, Iowa, carried a towel in his car because he vomited five or six times a week on his way to work. Julie Jansen's six children suffered flulike symptoms and diarrhea when farms moved into their neighborhood in Renville, Minn. One of Ms. Jansen's daughters was found by Dr. Kilburn to have neurological damage. She has problems with balance and has lost some feeling in her fingers.

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

    by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:07:59 AM PDT

  •  It is a sad commentary (12+ / 0-)

    that the issue of environmental justice is never enough to capture widespread attention and alarm.  Even environmental contamination, such as the assaults to waterways, remains local and generally of the national radar.  What does that say about our society and legislators that, only when we are at risk, we scream for action.  

    CAFOs are evil on multiple levels -- besides money invested in virus research, laser-like focus should be directed at ridding the world of these foul abominations.  

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by gchaucer2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:10:47 AM PDT

    •  It Says That Government of & for the People (0+ / 0-)

      doesn't have much more than a partnering role in big  money issues. Same as with the military/intelligence complex.

      Regardless of what the little parchments allege.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:17:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And at the bottom of the list (6+ / 0-)

      sadly is the issue of the suffering imposed on animals on the way to becoming someone's link sausage.

      According to a March 2004 article in the Des Moines Register, "A pregnant sow's biological need to build a nest before having her litter is so great that some sows confined in modern hog buildings will rub their snouts raw on the concrete floor while trying to satisfy the drive."

      The deprived environment produces neurotic coping behaviors such as repetitive bar biting, sham chewing (chewing nothing), and obsessively pressing on water bottles.[2,3]

      After visiting several pig factory farms, investigator Lauren Ornelas wrote, "what will remain with me forever is the sound of desperate pigs banging their heads against immovable doors and their constant and repeated biting at the prison bars that held them captive. This, I now know, is a sign of mental collapse."

      http://www.chooseveg.com/...

      A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

      by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:22:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, indeed, (8+ / 0-)

        the suffering of the animals tends to be at the bottom of the list or lost completely.

        The most brilliant and humane organization of a cattle (and other animal) farm I have ever seen was at Shaker Village in Hanover, NY.  Part of it is still operating as a museum.  The barn for the milk cows is round -- the cows were yolked for feeding and milking in a circle -- well spaced.  The design provided perfect ventilation through the roof and waste dropped to a compartment below the flooring and removed for composting.  After milking, the cows were sent out to the pasture.

        They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

        by gchaucer2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:34:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In so many ways our economic system (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder

          has become centralized because of the "economy of scale".  But fewer and bigger operations have their own negative costs, many of them social.  There is no such thing as a post agricultural society, but we pave and build suburbs and shopping malls upon former farmlands and expect to buy all our food trucked up from Mexico.  This system is not sustainable.  We will ultimately need to return to locally produced food and other products which employ people and don't require energy intensive transportation.

          Then again, humans, pigs, chickens and ducks on a small family farm is the traditional recipe for emergent viruses.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:01:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  On that note... (8+ / 0-)

      ...there has been conflict in North Carolina between larger environmental organizations focused on working with large hog producers to clean up their act a bit under the existing industrial paradigm and even use the hog lagoons to generate methane-based energy, and smaller, community-based groups comprised of people who are forced to live near these horrific facilities and want them all shut down. And I don't think I'm overstating the case with the use of the word "horrific," as anyone who has driven through rural eastern North Carolina and has caught a whiff of these things understands. Imagine having to live near these things day in and day out. It's really a human rights issue, when you come right down to it.

      •  The right not to be subject to (0+ / 0-)

        possible brain damage linked to be inhaling hydrogen sulfide would seem to be guaranteed by the Constitution.

        http://www.nytimes.com/...

        A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

        by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:44:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There has long been a racial component, also. (4+ / 0-)

        At a local film festival, I heard one of the directors of the Concerned Citizens of Tillery speak. Here is a summary of what they found when they partnered with UNC:

        "CCT and other community-based African-American organizations in eastern North Carolina observed that many hog CAFOs were located near Black schools, churches and neighborhoods. With the history of Warren County—the majority African-American community that gave birth to the environmental justice movement when it opposed a massive PCB landfill in the late 1970s—in mind, community groups charged the hog industry with environmental racism. However, their charges were ignored or rejected by white politicians, journalists and environmentalists on the grounds that community groups’ observations were anecdotal.

        Consequently, CCT partnered with researchers from UNC to conduct more formal research. This community-academic partnership decided to link permit records and federal census data to document the racial and economic characteristics of neighborhoods with and without hog CAFOs. Findings were clear: hog CAFOs were almost 10 times more common in low-income and Black areas compared to higher income areas with few Blacks, even considering statistical adjustment for rural location. Racial and economic disparities were greater for the corporateowned and operated CAFOs than for the dwindling number of independent operations. Furthermore, the research showed that hog CAFOs were predominantly located in areas where residents depend on groundwater for drinking.

        Next, the research team conducted a rural health survey to address concerns of local residents who reported respiratory, gastrointestinal and other symptoms associated with foul odors from hog CAFOs. Community consultants introduced trained interviewers to residents in three neighborhoods, one with a hog CAFO, one with a dairy, and one with no industrial livestock. Participants were asked about a range of symptoms they had experienced in the last six months, as well as about their quality of life. Results showed that residents within two miles of the hog operation reported more headaches, mucous membrane irritation, coughing and nausea than residents in the other two communities. Reports of other miscellaneous health problems, such as backache and hearing loss, were similar in the three areas, suggesting that hog CAFO neighbors were not over-reporting symptoms."

        Link:http://urbanhabitat.org/node/164

        CCT and UNC were then instrumental, from my understanding in getting a statewide moratorium on hog farming passed in 1997.

  •  I'd want to know the cost impacts of further (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv

    regulation before I would agree to it.  If it's going to simply put more American farmers out of business while the rest of the world continues on as normal, regulation won't be productive.

    "There are few wars between good and evil; most are between one good and another good." - Yang Wen-li

    by MelloY on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:13:19 AM PDT

    •  What is your definition (16+ / 0-)

      of "American farmers"?  Archer Daniel Midlands, Smithfield and others are not "farmers," they are corporations who put others at risk.  If there could be a phased transfer from CAFO and big agri-business to more farmers who practice good stewardship and farming practices, there would actually be more farmers and local products.

      I don't buy meats from the corporate run operations.  I am lucky enough to live in a small State where there are multiple small, well run farms.

      They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

      by gchaucer2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:20:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Everything puts us at some risk. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, C Barr

        It's a matter of what that risk is and weighing the various options to help mitigate that risk.  If CAFOs are outlawed, are there smaller farms to make up for the demand out there?  What would happen to product costs?  Would we simply start importing meat from other countries that do not have the same regulations?  I don't know the answers to these things.  I probably don't even know all of the right questions to ask.  It's not as simple as big corporations put us at risk, shut them down.

        "There are few wars between good and evil; most are between one good and another good." - Yang Wen-li

        by MelloY on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:35:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem I personally (11+ / 0-)

          see with factory farming is that it is high risk to human health and the environment.  I'm a realist and understand that phasing out of huge CAFO type farms will take generations.  The advantage of local farming is the reduction of transportation costs and crap added to the meats for preservation.  Of course, not every state can have enough local farms to meet demand.  I do think, however, if folks re-read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, or saw a good documentary on factory farming, they would re-think their consumption habits.

          I'm a meat eater -- but could take it or leave it.  I have similar problems with farmed fish because of health issues.  Also similar problems with big-agra and imported fruits and vegetables.  The solution, if there ever will be one, will be decades in the making.

          They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

          by gchaucer2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:42:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  its the the industrial "farms" (7+ / 0-)

          … that put farmers out of business. Just keep that in mind.

          "They're telling us something we don't understand"
          General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

          by subtropolis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:48:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Demand (6+ / 0-)

            I think it's worth looking at the assumption behind this:

            If CAFOs are outlawed, are there smaller farms to make up for the demand out there?

            People used to eat much less meat. To what extent is "demand" created by its affordability? Demand, while a technical term, suggests there's a public outcry for a certain condition, e.g., more meat. You can also see it not so much as a demand, but a response to the availability of product at a price that's lower than the price before.

            When the cost to the planet and human health is looked at I think the word demand becomes less sacrosanct.

            A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

            by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:57:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  hear, hear! (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MD patriot, Floja Roja, Red Bean, C Barr

              We pay far too little for far too many things that are, ultimately, destroying our planet. There are a lot of things i wish were much more expensive.

              "They're telling us something we don't understand"
              General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

              by subtropolis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:07:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  $5 per gallon gas, coal tax, etc (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                subtropolis

                Look at the true cost to the environment of spewing out pollutants, or chopping off the tops of mountains so people can live in huge energy wasting houses or shop in enclosed mega-stores.

                Time to get on track for the future, Georges Monbiot has many good ideas in his book "Heat".

                "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - Barack Obama, 3-24-09

                by MD patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:24:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  True, it's not simple. But for years I've been (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MD patriot, Red Bean, kkbDIA, C Barr, Yasuragi

          reading that the CAFOs harm the health of workers and people who live nearby, and are prime potential breeding grounds for new and resistant viruses. Now we have an epidemic of a new flu from a CAFO, tho it's mild enough that it doesn't fit the fear-image of a pandemic.  Still, it's a warning shot across the bow.

          Meanwhile, the Chesapeake Bay is being rendered less and less able to sustain life (including the rich shellfish harvest it used to provide), largely by agricultural run-off, including run-off from CAFOs.

          ANd small pig farmers are being driven out of business-- in states like North Carolina have already been driven out of business -- by the "economies of scale" of the CAFOs. But it's not really economies of scale. It's economies of externalizing your costs and not cleaning up your mess and fouling the common land and water that we all have to keep using.

          Regulation would put the CAFO and the small farmers and mixed farms back on something like an equal footing, because if the CAFOs had to deal with their messes and moderate their risks to human health, they would not be nearly so cheap.

          •  Your comment is awsome, but .... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, terrypinder

            Now we have an epidemic of a new flu from a CAFO

            This has yet to be established as fact.

            moderation in everything ... including moderation

            by C Barr on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:48:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you. You're right that it's not (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              C Barr, Yasuragi

              fully established -- science is cautious, as it should be. But I consider the information in this diary to lean heavily in that direction, given the combination of bird, swine, and human flus, which would almost certainly have to happen via pigs, because they can pick up viruses from both humans and birds; the fact that the first known case in Mexico was in the area of one of the large pig CAFOs; the notation that  

              the unnatural density of such operations enables the large viral loads considered necessary for the emergence of rare flu mutations;

              and the fact that a similar human/swine flu was found in a CAFO operation as far back as 1999.

              But we'll have to wait, probably some time, for flat out certainty.

          •  You don't know what a CAFO is, do you? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, Mysteron

            Those small pig farmers you talk about had better be CAFOs unless their pigs are free-range on pasture the entire year, or else they're dumping their collected waste wherever they feel like.

            It's very nice that you want to come in here and tell us small farmers what would help us.  It would be even better if you knew anything about the subject.

            Do you realize there are thousands of small farmers like myself who raise their animals on pasture (I have 50 sheep on 50 acres), who are required by law to be CAFOs?  In order to keep our waters clean.  And that my operation, by complying with CAFO is probably 10 times cleaner than the non-CAFO farms that surround me.

            And do you realize how insulting it is to us to have someone like you spewing nonsense about CAFOs harming people?

            When you actually mean a small sub-set of CAFOs - but then you just don't know any better.

            We small farmers don't need help like that, thanks.

            •  You're right that I was careless in my language, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ms badger, Yasuragi

              and that it is specifically the large, "factory farm" kind of CAFOs with massive pits of excrement leaching into the water, and workers and children who live nearby showing increased illnesses, etc., that I was thinking of. Confined feeding isn't always bad and in most parts of the country has to be done in winter one way or another.

              And I realize that small farmers -- any farmers, really -- are touchy about non-farmers telling them what to do. Farmers have a hard enough time just surviving.

              All the same, what farmers and especially the large agribusiness corporations are doing is affecting us all. My relatives living along the CHesapeake can no longer make their living fishing, as they have for generations, and that is in significant part because of agricultural run-off disrupting the ecosystem.  I have to research my food if I want to avoid antibiotics that should not be in meat, much less if I have qualms about ethical dealing with animals. I'm willing to be involved in killing animals -- that's natural, as I've known since I used to watch my Dad kill the chicken we would later eat for dinner, when we spent summers on my grandparents' farm. But I'm not willing to be involved in the kinds of cruelty involved in some of the factory farming.

              All in all, those of us who are not farmers have to talk about these issues. I would like for DKos to be a place where we can have conversations with mutual respect, and I'm certainly willing to be educated when my perspective is limited or I've picked up false "information." But I don't think you can reasonably tell non-farmers to just shut up and stop having opinions about what you do.  We're too intertwined, in this country, for "shut up and go away" to be an adequate conversation.  So maybe at some point we'll talk more, though I'm about to turn off my computer for today. I know agricultural issues will keep coming up in many contexts -- food, environment, energy, etc.

        •  Thousands of smaller farms are CAFOs (5+ / 0-)

          You are supposed to become a CAFO if you have more than a handful of animals and confine them for more than 45 days of the year.

          Confining them for 5 minutes of the day counts as a full day.  So every single dairy, large or small, needs to get a CAFO permit.

          Any farmer that houses his livestock in a barn over the winter months is supposed to get a CAFO permit (although many break the law and don't).

          This is my dairy - all pasture raised sheep - which is also a CAFO:

          Photobucket

          Horrible, isn't it.  And those sheep only have 40 more acres of grass like that to munch on.

          CAFOs cannot be outlawed, because the purpose of the regulation is to keep our waters clean, and small farms can (and do) pollute our waterways.  Preventing the big guys from operating would not mean the smaller guys wouldn't still need to get a CAFO permit.  If we outlaw CAFOs, then everyone could run their waste right into the nearest stream.  Not good.

          People should call the operations that they are describing as feedlot operations, industrial farms, or technically 'Concentrated CAFOs', which are a subset of CAFOs.

          Instead of unthinkingly insulting small farmers who raise their animals in natural and healthy environments, like I do.  

      •  Western New England is nice in a lotta ways.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, liberalconservative

        I am lucky enough to live in a small State where there are multiple small, well run farms.

      •  Except to a degree your argument is redundant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder

        Some of us already are CAFO's and are practicing good land management and stewardship. Ironically it's part of what our CAFO license requires, or are you unaware of EXACTLY what being a CAFO is all about like most people posting on these types of threads.

        Does the small well run farm you buy your goods from milk their animals? Then they are required by federal law to be a CAFO unless they milk their animals out in the fields.

    •  In other words... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joojooluv, MD patriot, Red Bean

      ...you think the public should continue to bear the externalized costs of your cheap pork? This vegetarian objects.

    •  Industrial-scale "farms" put farmers out of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr, Sue Sturgis

      business.  I'm involved in an initiative to keep small- and medium-sized farms in business by re-building atrophied parts of the regional food system - processing and distribution infrastructure and financial / business planning support.  For meat production as well as fruits and vegetables, changes to the food infrastructure resulting from concentration of food production into a small number of industrial-scale farms has been devastating to smaller farms.  The changes have made food cheaper by increasing short-term efficiency and productivity, but at a huge cost in terms of decreased resilience / increased vulnerability of the entire US food system over the longer term, as well as greatly increased environmental and public health hazards.

      In other words, that cheap pork you're buying now is going to cost us a LOT in the not-so-distant future.  It's only cheap now because a lot of the real costs (the "externalities") are hidden and/or deferred.

      By the way, thanks to you kossaks who grow food sustainably.  I'm learning a lot about how much dedication and knowledge it takes to do what you do.  I show my appreciation by paying the extra price to buy locally and sustainably grown food.

  •  Great job, Sue (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for all you're doing ... both here in North Carolina and beyond.  

  •  I just started a book (7+ / 0-)

    "America's Hidden History" by Kenneth C. Davis.

    The first chapter is about Queen Isabella of Spain encouraging Columbus to take pigs with him on his second journey to the west in 1493...with the thought that the proliferation of new diseases in the New World may have some origins with the introduction of pigs.

    In 1491, Charles C. Mann fingers the pigs, the 'ambulatory meat locker', as the possible culprit  behind the deadly epidemics that swept the New World's original inhabitants.  "Swine, mainstays of European agriculture, transmit anthrax, brucellosis, leptospirosis, trichinosis, and tuberculosis.  Pigs breed exuberantly and can pass disease to deer and turkeys, which then can infect people...Only a few...pigs would have to wander off to contaminate a forest.

  •  Global pandemics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Bean, LillithMc

    are not only made more likely by neo-conservatism (through deregulation and cutting public health budgets) they cannot possibly exist within its worldview because they, along with many other things, prove the need for government.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:21:33 AM PDT

  •  I'm pleased as punch (6+ / 0-)

    to have just added "Recommended" to your tags.  Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes, but I couldn't imagine this diary not hitting the rec list.  Congratulations, Sue, for both the fine diary and a well deserved spot on the rec list.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by gchaucer2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:23:00 AM PDT

  •  Regulations (7+ / 0-)

    The tragedy is that we have the fewest food and farming regulations in the developed world while we should have the world's safest food given how much open space we have.  Regardless of whether or not H1N1 ends up being traced to pigs originally, American farmers are not required to report any flu outbreaks in pigs.  It doesn't have to be this way - Canada requires reporting all animal flus.  

    On a similar vein, we test cows for diseases (including mad cow) essentially only if they drop dead on their way to the slaughter.  Japan tests every single cow.  

    FDA and USDA reform needs to be at the top of the agenda for 2010.

  •  Simthfield in NC got 7,000 EPA violations in 1997 (9+ / 0-)

       One of the largest pork companies on the East Coast was fined $12.6 million - the largest water pollution fine ever- for dumping hog waste into a Chesapeake Bay tributary.

        U.S. District Judge Rebecca B. Smith ruled Aug. 8 that Smithfield Foods Inc. was liable for nearly 7,000 violations of the Clean Water Act since 1991. She said she wanted at least a portion of the fine to be used for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The ruling resulted from an EPA lawsuit that accused Smithfield of polluting the Pagan River and destroying documents to cover it up.

    BayJournal.com  September 1997

        Almost 7000 violations? What did they do?

       

        UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. SMITHFIELD FOODS, INC., SMITHFIELD PACKING COMPANY, INC., and GWALTNEY OF SMITHFIELD, LTD., Defendants.

       
    Rebecca Beach Smith, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

        Based on the credible testimony and evidence, most of defendants' violations were severe.  . . . On average, defendants exceeded the phosphorus limits by 1,055%, fecal coliform limits by 1,365%, ammonia limits by 97%, cyanide limits by 168%, oil and grease limit by 114%, and the TSS limit by 63.5%. The only exceedances that were slightly above the limits were TKN discharges, which exceeded the limits by 35%, and chlorine discharges, which exceeded the limits by 8%. Thus, defendants' effluent violations were frequent and severe.

    law.buffalo.edu

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

    by MinistryOfTruth on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:23:43 AM PDT

  •  I am confused. They say they're (0+ / 0-)

    going to change the name because it's not linked to pigs, then we get this.

    Can someone explain?

    •  from what I read (8+ / 0-)

      as it is now primarily a human-human transmission flu, that was why the more techincal H1N1 term was used even though it originated in pigs.

      also, to keep people from making irrational decisions like not eating pork because they might think they will get the flu.

      this article over at effect measure at science blogs is interesting.

      (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

      by terrypinder on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:39:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My understanding... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder

      ...is that the industry wants the name changed because the flu isn't passing from pigs to humans at this point in its genetic evolution.

      •  In other words... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, Little

        ...what Terry said!

      •  Um, citation needed? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Little, Boisepoet

        It was the World Health Organization that pushed for the name change, after Egypt ordered the slaughter of all pigs (with devastating effects on its Coptic population) and other developing nations began planning similar measures.

        As simplistically appealing as it is to attribute everything in the world to a single "evil" cabal which causes all bad things in the world, reality is a bit more complex.

        No doubt, the pork industry has an interest in changing the name, since eating pigs or hanging around them does not cause one to contract this virus. However, widespread public ignorance (in this country as much as anywhere else) contributes to panic and misdirected action that hinders, rather than helps, public health efforts.

        The name is, actually, misleading, and, as is often the case, the scientific nomenclature used to identify the dominant genes in a particular virus does not take into account public health needs.

        Please don't undermine your solid scientific reporting with simplistic demonization, as tempting as it is to exploit this situation for ideological purposes.

        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:19:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read this report from Bloomberg... (5+ / 0-)

          ... for more on the politics behind the virus's name:

          Stick to Name 'Swine Flu,' WHO Says as Industry Moans

          By Rudy Ruitenberg

          April 28 (Bloomberg) -- The influenza strain linked to 152 deaths in Mexico should be called "swine flu," the World Health Organization said, rejecting calls from pork producers and an animal-health group to rename the virus.

          Full story here.

    •  pressure from the Pork Industry (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Little

      They bitched about how the "swine" moniker was unfairly tarnishing their sparkling reputation.

      "They're telling us something we don't understand"
      General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

      by subtropolis on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:53:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm originally from Iowa. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Red Bean

        I know what intentive livestock farming bullshit smells like, and I know what intensive farming hogshit lagoons can do to an ecosystem.

        Ick.

        "They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. [...] That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary." -Handmaid's Tale

        by Cenobyte on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:06:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So.. US not hit as hard as Mexico (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    because we've been getting swine flu since 98 and have died or built immunities hidden inside the 'normal' flu cases for a decade?  I'm just askin...

    We're all one heartbeat away from Forever. kasandra.us

    by KS Rose on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:36:37 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. (8+ / 0-)

    Very well presented along with backup information/links. These factory so called "farms" need so much more regulation, and it's not just the hog "farms" either that need much more regulation.

    Years ago my Father raised hogs on our family farm which I was very involved with at the time as I was growing up, and every picture I see of the way the hogs (or cows) are cramped into spaces where they can hardly move at these factory "farms" is unbelievable and so very sad. The only time any of his hogs were confined at all was when a sow (the mother) was about to give birth. They had to be put in farrowing "stalls", which restricted the sows movement so that she wouldn't lay down on the babies and crush them. Once weaned, the sows and the baby pigs were put back out into pasture until it was time to either sell the baby pigs when they were at the appropriate size, or for the sow to give birth again. It's just so friggin' sad seeing how these factory farms operate.

  •  Why I love Kos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, marabout40

    it's because of remarkable diaries like this, excellent, thankyou.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

  •  The wingnuts are going to have to hire... (7+ / 0-)

    a contortionist to explain how the response to this was...

    inadequate because we should have closed the Mexican border, overblown because the team-Obama got our in front of it, yet purely unrelated to the lax regulation of the domestic pork industry, that has long been a major environmental and health concern.

    Yikes, and I thought it was hard being a liberal.

  •  Thxs for detailed diary & research. Tip & Rec. nt (0+ / 0-)

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by jdmorg on Tue May 05, 2009 at 09:54:49 AM PDT

  •  There are other parts of the article you may want (5+ / 0-)

    to look at.  I am no fan of factory farms, but we should not ignore normal viral evolution.  From the very same article

    Steven Salzberg, a computational biologist at the University of Maryland, was among the scientists who found that the new H1N1 virus contains strains from past swine viruses, including the one that swept through pig farms in 1998.

    Salzberg said he doesn't blame factory farms for the current outbreak because swine flu is common among pigs. But he wants to know more about the new strain's ancestry.

  •  Good diary, thanks, but... (0+ / 0-)

    You might want to re-think this sentence:

    A May 1999 N&O story titled "Disease detectives untangle mystery of mutant flu virus" (available in the paper's online archives) reported that the 1998 bug ...

  •  The media said you're spreading conspiracy theory (6+ / 0-)

    by equating the factory farming industry with public health pandemics.

    Hat tip to inky99

    for this diary Media: Smithfield connection to flu a "conspiracy theory"

    What a fucking sham, the Special Interests are crushing this story. Thanks for bringing it back up.

    You are what you eat.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

    by MinistryOfTruth on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:16:44 AM PDT

    •  The thing is... (5+ / 0-)

      ...there are some pretty wild theories out there that I ran across in my reporting. It's important for us to distinguish between those kinds of stories and stories of substance that are pointing to real issues we need to consider. The documentation provided usually reveals which is which.

      •  Oh, I entirely believe there is a direct connect (2+ / 0-)

        between animal health and human health.

        How the WHO ignores that is beyond me.

        There are a lot of wild theories, but this isn't one of them. IMHO this is a legit argument that should be made.

        Good job for bringing it to our attention.

        The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

        by MinistryOfTruth on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:06:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is nothing at the moment (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder, C Barr

          connecting pigs to the current virus going around, except that a few genes match the H1N1 virus isolated from pigs in 1998.

          Steven Salzberg, a computational biologist at the University of Maryland, was among the scientists who found that the new H1N1 virus contains strains from past swine viruses, including the one that swept through pig farms in 1998.

          Salzberg said he doesn't blame factory farms for the current outbreak because swine flu is common among pigs. But he wants to know more about the new strain's ancestry.

          http://www.newsobserver.com/...

  •  Swine Flu Epicenter: Sampson County NC (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DefendOurConstitution

    Sue: Change your title for bigger response.

    First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. -M.Gandhi (see also, Republican strategy)

    by ezdidit on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:30:43 AM PDT

  •  The Pig Shit Geyser (4+ / 0-)

    From Al Franken's Lies...

    I want to draw you a word picture of a lagoon you may remember from Gilligan's Is­land, where a caged lion or an Indian in a canoe might wash up just to get that week's episode rolling. This lagoon is a rectangle the size of three football fields, lined with 40-mil high-density polyethyl­ene and filled, to a depth of thirty feet, with pig shit.

    Now imagine that, at the bottom of the lagoon, pebbles have punctured the liner, allowing the liquefied pig shit to seep under and ferment. A bubble is growing. The polyethylene liner rises like a creature from the brown lagoon. It breaks the surface, spilling a pungent stew of untreated feces and urine into a nearby creek. An undocumented Guatemalan worker is ordered to puncture the liner with a shotgun blast. Retching, he fires. The swollen liner re­treats into the fetid depths. Mission accomplished.

    The next day, however, one of the most magnificent sights in all of nature, a shit geyser, explodes into the afternoon sky. Those working nearby watch the pillar rise ten, then twenty, then thirty feet above the lagoon. It is as though the Earth itself is afflicted with a virulent case of projectile diarrhea.

    A Democrat looks at a glass of water and sees it half filled. A Republican looks at it and screams, "WHO THE HELL STOLE MY WATER."

    by Owsley on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:33:13 AM PDT

  •  consumers should vote with their wallets (5+ / 0-)

    Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

    by desmoinesdem on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:41:22 AM PDT

  •  I see in in this variations on ... (0+ / 0-)

    systemic limits-to-growth, which arise out of indiscriminate exponential growth.

    "The most significant difference between now and a decade ago is the ... rapid erosion of spare capacities at critical segments of energy chains." Cheney, 2001

    by Akonitum on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:47:42 AM PDT

  •  Trying to trace genes is utterly idiotic (0+ / 0-)

    Where viral genes come from is completely irrelevant. Viral recombination has nothing to do with governments or politics.

    Jesus

  •  Ms Sturgis, you did not research back far (0+ / 0-)

    enough.  Swine Flu MAY have been related to the 1918 epidemic.  But, for sure, it was found in Henderson County, NC, in 1930.  Right state, wrong date=).
    Try the google.

    Indict, convict, imprison. "Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana

    by incognita on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:02:44 AM PDT

  •  I Plan On Giving Money To Stop These Practices (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Bean, the fan man

    I think that how animals are treated on hog and chicken farms is horrific.  I am not a vegetarian, but I would like to thnk that the animals I eat have been treated humanely.

    •  Unfortunately unless you (4+ / 0-)

      have talked to the farmer or have reliable descriptions of how the animals have been raised and slaughtered you have to assume that the meat you buy comes from animals that have been treated inhumanely.

      A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

      by Red Bean on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:48:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From Grist: (0+ / 0-)

    From Grist:

    Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.

    "They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. [...] That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary." -Handmaid's Tale

    by Cenobyte on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:24:58 AM PDT

    •  I honestly don't think what Grist has (4+ / 0-)

      reported will turn out to be correct. This diary pulls the veil back on this flu's origins, not it's current manifestation. The investigation continues.

      Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

      by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:36:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Grist article (0+ / 0-)

        does mention that locals smelled a strong fecal odor on the air and reported swarms of flies over the lagoons.
        Just sayin' it's possible, and that a quick Google news search on h1n1 and "factory farming" returns tens of thousands of results.

        "They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. [...] That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary." -Handmaid's Tale

        by Cenobyte on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:41:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Flies don't spread flu (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, C Barr

          Flu is a respiratory disease. You can not get flu from flies feeding on manure.

        •  It has to do with another case in Oaxaca around (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder

          the same time as the first case in Perote. Oaxaca is about 1000 kilometers from Perote. Someone or something brought it there. The time frame is so close to the boy in Veracruz as to suggest they contracted it around the same day. There is no obvious link with pig farmers or farm workers or sick pigs. The victim was a tax census taker, so that put her in contact with many people. But who and where? Were they sick? Oaxaca has a lot of human traffic from up north, I think we may find out someone brought it down to this region from somewhere else.

          A critical patient, an overwhelmed hospital and a tenacious newspaper

          Perote is also about 8 kilometers from the Smithfield operations. Who brought it to Perote? Farm workers? Maybe. Birds, maybe. Insects? That is a possibility but it is a long shot (the study on H5N1 says it is possible, not that it ever has accomplished infecting humans (wouldn't we have seen more cases?) and distances in the study were about a quarter of the distance from Perote to Smithfield)). That's what the sampling and subtyping work being done now will help answer.

          Proud member of the "Dkos Swine Lobby" since April 2009

          by the fan man on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:42:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I hoipe this takes some of the heat off (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Mexico. The country is already an economic basket case. This has decimated the economy and it will probably never recover.  I lived in the Caribbean for ten years and after a major disaster, usually hurricanses, it always took about four or five years for an island to recover. People don't tend to go on vacation where they feel threatened.

    This is the real downside of panic like the swine flu one.  The reality is that origins are reproduced in many places on the globe.

    •  Not to mention the fact that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eloise, soccergrandmom

      many Mexicans are felling incredibly guilty over this outbreak, though World Health officials have said we should be thankful it happened in Mexico, based on the way the government and public response.

      (So I heard on NPR)

      They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify their fraudulent invasion of Iraq.

      by Words In Action on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:19:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm afraid you're missing something here (7+ / 0-)

    The H1N1 isolated from pigs in 1998 isn't the only H1N1 that's ever been isolated from pigs. It's simply the most common one found in pigs in the US.
    Nor is it the only H1N1 ever isolated from humans.
    We know that H1N1 caused the 1918 pandemic, and was first isolated in pigs in 1930.
    The H1N1 strain is common in pigs and different variants of the H1N1 have been isolated from pigs in North Carolina, Indiana (1988), and Wisconsin (1997), Texas (1998) and Canada. There are also different variants in Asia and Europe of the H1N1.
    To give you an example of some of the different variants of H1N1 in swine, there is a reassortant H1N1 with avian intervals that was found in feral pigs in Texas in 1998.
    And another variant of H1N1 in pigs was discovered in 1998 in Texas is called Human/Swine reassortant H1N1 and similar to human H1 flu viruses circulating in 2003. The HA and the NA genes in this virus are of human origin.

    So, there are so many variants of the H1N1 (not only among humans, but also among pigs), tracing one variant that was discovered on a farm in North Carolina, without knowing the genetic makeup of the flu currently infecting humans, is ignoring the science behind these viruses.
    It's easy to blame factory farms, until you realize that when the virus was first isolated from pigs, there were no factory farms.

    •  Your comment doesn't make sense to me. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MD patriot, Cenobyte

      You write:

      ... there are so many variants of the H1N1 (not only among humans, but also among pigs), tracing one variant that was discovered on a farm in North Carolina, without knowing the genetic makeup of the flu currently infecting humans, is ignoring the science behind these viruses.

      The research I cite regarding the genetics of this virus looked specifically at the strain now infecting humans. Scientists have traced the current virus's genes back to the 1998 outbreak in North Carolina.

      •  The point I'm trying to make (4+ / 0-)

        is that certain genes in this H1N1 have their ancestry in the 1998 outbreak, but you can't conclude from a few genes that the flu even came from a pig in this instance.

        Scientists don't yet know when or where the current H1N1 strain first emerged. They know only that it was identified after people in Mexico began falling ill with the fevers and aches associated with flu.

        The current virus has not been found in swine, and the country's pork industry is scrambling to reassure consumers about the safety both of pork and the U.S. farm system.

    •  But we do know the genetic makeup of the current (0+ / 0-)

      H1N1 virus--it's already been sequenced and deposited in the NCBI database.

      Tikkun Olam...Obama '08

      by tethys on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:02:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question (0+ / 0-)

    Is work underway to produce a vaccine for the fall?

    The sequence of events in 1918 was a milder spring wave followed by a more virulent and deadly wave in the fall.

    Tikkun Olam...Obama '08

    by tethys on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:04:11 PM PDT

    •  Not exactly. Health officials are worried that (0+ / 0-)

      the virus could mutate by the fall into a more virulent strain.

    •  They're continuing to make seasonal flu vaccine, (0+ / 0-)

      last I heard.  I've read that there's not sufficient production capacity to make both the seasonal flu vaccine, which will be needed in the southern hemisphere soon, AND H1N1 vaccine.  Concerns about insufficient production capacity have been talked about for years; there's not so much profit in producing flu vaccines, so almost no pharmaceutical manufacturers are interested.

  •  Comparing the diary to the actual article (7+ / 0-)

    The summary by the diarist

    Scientists working to understand the genetic makeup of the H1N1 virus that causes the disease have linked it to a virus behind a 1998 swine flu outbreak at an industrial hog farm in Sampson County, North Carolina's leading hog producer.

    The underlyimg article:

    The new H1N1 influenza virus that continues to spread through the United States has ancestry in a swine flu outbreak that first struck a North Carolina hog farm more than 10 years ago, according to scientists studying the strain's genetic makeup.

    The current strain has not shown up in surveillance of U.S. pigs, and it cannot be caught by eating pork.

    * * *

    Scientists don't yet know when or where the current H1N1 strain first emerged.

    * * * *

    This week's discovery is, in part, just another piece of the scientific puzzle in trying to understand the new H1N1 flu's history. Scientists working around the world this week began tracing the virus's origins days after the CDC published its eight-chromosome genetic sequence.

    Steven Salzberg, a computational biologist at the University of Maryland, was among the scientists who found that the new H1N1 virus contains strains from past swine viruses, including the one that swept through pig farms in 1998.

    Salzberg said he doesn't blame factory farms for the current outbreak because swine flu is common among pigs. But he wants to know more about the new strain's ancestry.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/...

  •  OVERPOPULATION (4+ / 0-)

    So if these hog farms are incubators for swine flu and other diseases, then we can look forward to more such problems as human population continues to climb EXPONENTIALLY.

    I just don't think people grasp the problem when the world population, now at 6 1/2 BILLION is expected to climb to 12 BILLION in the next few decades. Wrap your head around that, please. The problems we are now experiancing due to population pressures are NOTHING compared to what is just around the corner.

    •  Indeed. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpawnOfJerry, ericlewis0, matador

      Unsustainable population is the 800-pound gorilla in the room during so many environmental discussions, IMO.

    •  Keep in mind that this kind of industrial (0+ / 0-)

      livestock production was part of the the "magic bullet" that was claimed by the naysayers to have absolved humans of the "threat" of overpopulation. Science and industry had allowed us to produce food in capacities to keep up with population growth.

      T. R. Malthus described over a hundred years ago how all natural species expand in numbers until the environment around them is no longer able to support them; whereupon starvation and other limitations establish some equlibrium.

      Humans thought our brains were big enough to always defeat this equation, and now it's becoming clear we have outsmarted ourselves.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:13:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks so much for this diary. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, CanyonWren, ericlewis0

    "Obama is just too smart to be stupid." --NYmind

    by Dragon5616 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:15:58 PM PDT

  •  Excellent job, Sue. (4+ / 0-)

    I have been tracking the NC connections too but I've been too busy to write. You're a much batter journalist than I am so it's great to see you pick up the story.

    I, too, hope this outbreak stays mild and is taken as a wake up call about factory pig farms which endanger all of us.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:27:44 PM PDT

    •  I'm with y'all, too. I'm not very (0+ / 0-)

      hopeful about it being a wake up call, but i'll hope to be pleasantly surprised.

      Tired today.  Tired of seeing single-payer advocates mocked.  Tired of seeing trillions go to institutions that are foreclosing and bankrupting us.  Tired of renegotiating mortgages being beaten.
      Tired of hearing that the companies who are giving up some of their tax haven status are getting some of the money back in "R&D" expenses.

      Tired of all of our e-mails and calls not making much of a difference. Just tired.  

    •  It's the Economy, Stupid. Or the Stupid (0+ / 0-)

      Economy.

      We've created so many industries that are build on bad principles, that we hoped for all these years would be able to live within the theoretical limits of their absurd excesses.

      Those theoretical limits are now being reached, and when our financial system is dependent on them, it's going to get really twisted as more and more people are going to be forced to make a devil's choice between their livelihood and the environment.

      But don't worry.

      Raw, unrestrained capitalism will magically fix it all, as long as we just leave our meddling commie hands off it...

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:02:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How does this effect my several tin foil theories (0+ / 0-)

    regarding the H1N1 outbreak? At first blush, it makes me even more suspicious!

    friend good, fire bad.

    by ericlewis0 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:47:37 PM PDT

  •  Oh big surprise. (0+ / 0-)

    I guess we need to close the NC border now, right?

  •  U.S. Farm Subsidies, NAFTA and Swine Flu (3+ / 0-)

    I tried to do a diary on this here, but it fell into obscurity. Will link to what i wrote on Lavidalocavore since I have seen no one really make the linkages between our grain dumping from NAFTA and the swine flu outbreak.

    Swine Flu and NAFTA

  •  Nice diary (0+ / 0-)

    Explaining the issue with dispassionate passion, balanced, and logical.

    How come we can't read things like this in the regular press?

    Great work, Sue.

    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

    by Valtin on Tue May 05, 2009 at 05:26:56 PM PDT

  •  Wait a minute (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    this doesn't fit with the "Blame Dirty Mexicans" meme

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:16:15 PM PDT

  •  Not one to prosteltyze on DK but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CcVenussPromise

    I think that eating meat and consuming dairy products from a place where you don't see the animals, in this day and age, is an amazing feat of denial of suffering.

    We know that corporations have little compunction about gutting small businessness and driving people into poverty for their bottom line. We know they exploit workers the world over. I am certain what they do to animals is done with  even less care, since the animals can't unionize and their bodies are the products we are consuming.

    It's barbaric, a daily abu graib. The US kills an estimated 10 billion animals a year.

    "I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being" -Abraham Lincoln

    by joojooluv on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:18:07 PM PDT

  •  Franken Farms at the Root of the Problem? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snud

    nahhhhh, can't be!

    several "experts" here claim Franken farms are wonderful and clean.

    The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

    by Superpole on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:22:52 PM PDT

  •  This diary has the science totally wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    The current H1N1/2009 flu is NOT found in pigs.  Ironically the only case of current H1N1/2009 in pigs was from a human to pig contact, a farm worker who brought the disease back from Mexico and, in working with the pigs, transmitted to the pigs.

    That a similar flu affected pigs 10 years ago but never affected humans is clearly stated by the researchers but the diarist not only totally misses this medical fact but turns it on its head and claims it links the two viruses.

    •  So it's human only? (0+ / 0-)

      Do you have links we can see, please?

      This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

      by Snud on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:44:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The "links" disproving the diary are in the diary (0+ / 0-)

        Which is what is so crazy. The diarist used a headline to make a persona(?) case against factory farms (which are terrible things) but the research cited and linked in the diary disprove (or rather show ZERO evidence) to support the diary's claim that certain industrial pig farms were the source of the current H1N1/2009 flu...which is not found in pigs.

        •  Perhaps you are misreading my story. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CcVenussPromise

          The headline you criticize says, "Swine flu genes traced to North Carolina factory farm," and my story points to a newspaper report that begins, "The new H1N1 influenza virus that continues to spread through the United States has ancestry in a swine flu outbreak that first struck a North Carolina hog farm more than 10 years ago, according to scientists studying the strain's genetic makeup." I never claimed, as you say, that "certain industrial pig farms were the source" of the current virus.

  •  Don't falme (0+ / 0-)

    But I could've sworn it came from my ex mother in law.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:42:28 PM PDT

  •  I used to work for Caterpillar who built engines (0+ / 0-)

    that ran on the natural gas produced by hog waste.

    The story our engineer told us was memorable for the punchline:

    "Tarp Fart"

    A huge tarp would be constructed over the manure ponds to capture the methane gas, which could be run through an engine designed to run on natural gas. Decomposing manure produces natural gas - Methane - and the engine, with an intake to provide clean air for combustion oxygen would consume that gas.

    But you can see that as in any system, there would need to be an equilibrium. If the engine ran too long or too fast, it would consume all the methane and the tarp would collapse.

    But if the engine did not consume the methane at the same rate it was being produced, the methane would build up under the tarp until the tarp reached it's maximum dimension and then a "relief flap" would allow the release of the excess -

    A  "Tarp Fart".

    Apparently the sound, like the smell of the entire operation, is something that defies description in mere words.

    One of the few things that I'm happy to say therefore I can only relate to you in this second-hand tale of it's existence and not from my own real-world experience.

    But ya gotta wonder what it's like to hear the sound that was nicknamed 'God's own Whoopie Cushion'.

    Good luck enjoying your next serving of bacon.  

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:58:53 PM PDT

  •  1998 H3N2 Swine Flu (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xylon, CcVenussPromise, Sue Sturgis

    If anyone is curious about this swine flu, I can add some details.  For almost 60 years in the United States, the classical swine influenza isolates were H1N1.  In 1998, there were four unusual outbreaks with the worst in North Carolina.  The strains from this outbreak were H3N2 and its genome had lineages similar to avian, human, and swine strains.

    So, the influenza mentioned in this article is H3N2, not H1N1.  That is why vaccination didn't really work at that time, because the swine flu vaccines then were H1N1.  The H3 genome segment was very similar to a recent human influenza strain.

    If anyone is interested here is the original paper from Robert Webster's lab.  Table 1 in that paper is great because it compares the origin of each of the 8 genomic segments in the four "type" 1998 isolates.  The North Carolina strain was a little different from the other three as it didn't have the obvious avian components.

    Rome is burning and they do not even smell the smoke.

    by Mote Dai on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:53:22 PM PDT

  •  Wake Me Up when it's traced to Michelle Bachmann (0+ / 0-)

    It's 1:20AM - I'm going to sleep.

  •  tinhat (0+ / 0-)

    swine flu is actually a government cover story for their secret testing of hamthrax

    /tinhat

    The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from--but where did all you zombies come from?

    by Demosthenes on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:34:41 PM PDT

  •  How To Tell The Difference Between Regular flu & (0+ / 0-)

    Swine Flu

    Democrats: The party of "We The People"

    by DannyB on Wed May 06, 2009 at 01:54:54 AM PDT

  •  I just shudder to think about (0+ / 0-)

    the hardships more regulations will put on the local farmers I buy from. So many small time farmers are getting pushed out of the way as it is...

    Terrific diary. Sorry to seem like I'm criticizing the diarist, which I'm not.

    AAC: Support local arts

    by jamesia on Wed May 06, 2009 at 02:39:03 AM PDT

  •  Maybe it's time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    littlenomad

    ...to quit hyping this farce.

  •  What about Frauline Bachmann? (0+ / 0-)

    Zee Frauline said der schweinen flu vast caused by zee Georgian Jimmy Carter back in 1976.  Zee Tar Heelz are blameless!

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. -Bertrand Russell

    by littlenomad on Wed May 06, 2009 at 04:14:14 AM PDT

    •  But Seriously... (0+ / 0-)

      I was high as a kite after my home state turned from red to blue last November...

      ...but now with Richard Burr, Virginia Foxx, and this business, it's as if we're back in the Jesse Helms years.  

      It would be nice to get rid of the giant lagoons of pig feces...but something tells me we have a better shot at getting rid of either Burr or Foxx.  And this Foxx thing is becoming a bit personal with me.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. -Bertrand Russell

      by littlenomad on Wed May 06, 2009 at 04:18:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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