China's largest meat processor struck a surprise $4.7 billion agreement to acquire Smithfield Foods Inc., a deal that would mark the biggest Chinese takeover of an American company and underscores the Asian nation's renewed determination to scoop up overseas assets.
Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. agreed to pay $34 a share for Smithfield, the world's largest hog farmer and pork processor. Including debt, the deal values the Smithfield, Va., company at $7.1 billion.
People involved in the deal said Wednesday that the purpose of the sale is to export more of Smithfield's output to feed rising demand in China. Essentially this off shores China's industrial factory farming of hogs to the US. Just as the US off shored our manufacturing (along with all the pollution it caused) to China; China is now returning the favor. We get the pollution along with increased greenhouse gas emissions, extreme water and land pollution and China gets the product.
Humane Society Undercover Investigation Smithfield Farms 2012
Amazingly, with this acquisition China hopes to give a boost to its tainted pork industry.
It’s true that, unlike in China, the US hasn’t recently found thousands of dead pigs floating down a river.. Nor have growth additives been found in pork that can cause headaches, nausea and an irregular heartbeat in humans, which happened to Shuanghui in 2011. But American pork industry, of which Smithfield is the biggest sow in the pigpen, is far from squeaky clean. It has had a surfeit of disgusting scandals over the years, and epitomizes exactly the kind of large-scale, unsustainable farming that China would be wise to avoid.
Smithfield may not have dumped thousands of pig carcasses in a river, but over the years it has contaminated the rivers of North Carolina with millions of gallons of pig excrement. It also has a history of using ractopamine, which pumps up muscle content in pigs and reduces the amount of feed they require. (Ractopamine is actually illegal in China, so Smithfield is trying to clean up its act.)
With this move China seems to be taking advantage of lax US environmental (pdf) and labor standards. Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse for the environment.
UPDATED WITH PETITION: Please sign petition from Food & Water Watch to stop sale of Smithfield to China! Sign Petition Here!
UPDATED with new policy video on Chinese meat consumption from Brighter Green
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Fri May 31, 2013 at 6:58 AM PT: The comments are going off on a tangent. We do not need to expand factory farming. We need to abolish it. This diary is about factory farmings immense contribution to climate change & resource depletion.