Humans are responsible for swine flu

Swine flu. Bird flu. Mad cow disease. SARS. These diseases have all spread from animals to humans in one form or another. But animals aren't to blame for outbreaks of animal-borne diseases -- humans are.

Our demand for meat means pigs, turkeys, chickens, cows and other animals must be mass produced in crowded, feces-ridden factory farms like the one in Mexico that is suspected of starting the current swine . These farms are incubators for disease.

The same strain of swine flu that has, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), killed at least seven people in Mexico (Mexican health officials put that number closer to 170) and sickened more than 2,000 has now claimed at least one victim in the United States, a 23-month-old child in Texas.

As of this writing, 109 confirmed cases have been reported throughout 11 states, and those numbers are increasing rapidly. The WHO has warned the outbreak could become a global pandemic.

Precautions such as stockpiling , closing schools, suspending travel and practicing good hygiene are necessary to help stop the spread of swine flu, but we need to take one more significant measure to prevent future epidemics of animal-borne diseases: Stop raising animals for food.

The meat industry's cost-cutting practices-cramming tens of thousands of animals into filthy sheds and slaughtering them on killing floors that are contaminated with feces, vomit and other bodily fluids-allow diseases such as swine flu, and to flourish.

Lawmakers in Veracruz, Mexico, have said that hog and poultry operations are breeding grounds for pathogens that make people sick. Authorities believe one of Mexico's largest pork producers, Granjas Carroll, which is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Smithfield Foods (the largest pork producer in the world), may be the source of the swine flu outbreak.

Swarms of flies hover above the lagoons where Granjas Carroll discharges hog feces, and area residents have long complained the waste is tainting the water, polluting the air and causing respiratory infections. In April, residents told reporters that more than half of the town's population was sick and three children under the age of 2 had died.

While it's easy to point fingers at Granjas Carroll and Mexico, disease-ridden animal factories can be found all over the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies have shown that 30 to 50 percent of pigs raised for food in the U.S. have been infected with some strain of swine flu. Hans-Gerhard Wagner, a senior officer with the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, has called the "intensive industrial farming of livestock" an "opportunity for emerging disease."

Other harmful organisms, including salmonella, campylobacter, listeria and E. coli, also spread from animals to people. E. coli is found in the feces of farmed animals and often sprays in every direction when animals are eviscerated at slaughterhouses. A study published in the journal Nature revealed that not only are U.S. meat and dairy products more commonly contaminated with E. coli than other foods are, they also contain a substance that can raise the risk of E. coli infection.

Although health officials have been quick to point out people can't get swine flu from eating pork, they have failed to hammer home one significant detail: Raising pigs for pork is what puts us at risk for in the first place.

The fewer pigs, chickens and other animals we raise for food, the fewer animal-borne diseases there will be. It's that simple. And since meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol and can cause heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and a host of other health problems. We would all be better off if we stopped eating it today.



Heather Moore is a research specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; .


(c) 2009, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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May 01, 2009
I know that it's not logical to dismiss an article purely on the basis of the author's associations...but seriously, it's PETA. Someone needs to fact-check this.

May 01, 2009

May 01, 2009
"but we need to take one more significant measure to prevent future epidemics of animal-borne diseases: Stop raising animals for food."

Oh get real! Yes, feedlots are a HUGE source for germs, and changes NEED to happen there. Yes, humans probably could consume less meat. But humans ARE meat eaters. Going vegan is NOT an option for the whole world. Me personally, I would probably die without meat. Not figuratively, literally.

Heather Moore, go read a bible. Maybe you can find something else to preach. I at least can tolerate people telling me I should go to church......

May 01, 2009
It's not only the "feedlots" that are an issue - it's the waste from manure lagoons and even from poultry sheds. Let us not forget that cows and pigs poop about 6 times more than a human... To the point where disposing of the poop actually contaminates our crops and our ground water.

You say humans are "meat eaters" - humans are opportunistic omnivores. We can/do eat nearly anything. What we eat, meat or not is a "choice". We can sustain 6 times more people (in a healthier manner) on a plant based diet. We can stop the destruction of rain forests for cattle grazing... we can make our pharmacuticals more effective by not consuming animals who are nearly immune to them (and in time, so shall we be)...

You say you would "die without meat". Surely, we all might die if we continue to do so... Furthermore, have you ever attempted to reduce/eliminate meat from your diet? It's very simple - many have chosen a day or two a week then gradually added another and another. They've found bountiful health improvements and it makes a huge difference in our planet's ecological wellbeing. And yes, even to the poor animals who will not suffer needlessly.

May 02, 2009
I am surprised that Physorg would give credibility to a person who is as biased as all PETA members are. Her account is irrational.
Should she have simply attacked the intense, overcrowded and polluted environments of these animal factories then she would have been on solid ground.
We have piggeries in Australia that are totally hygienic, germ free and air conditioned. The pigs grow at twice the rate of those in a normal mud swill farm environment. All bodily waste is regularly hosed off the concrete floors which are also chemically washed down.
Ms Moore has clearly not heard of these yet they have been around for decades.
I guess that demonstrates her level of awareness or it illustrates her degree of bias.
She either knows of no alternatives (ignorance)or chooses to not mention alternatives (bias).

To dear deluded Moore I, like many others, am already a vegetarian. I eat meat and my meat is made out of grass.
What mo(o)re could one ask?

Please Physorg maintain your standards and insist upon some scientific basis for an article. If you don't you will be flooded by all the ratbags in the world each peddling their own aberrations and your site instead of being, in my opinion, the most valuable and interesting site on the internet will deteriorate until it becomes, like most public access sites, a load of rubbish not worth visiting.
That would be a tragedy for a site like yours.

May 04, 2009
So not content with spoiling people's appetites, those devils at PETA are now seeking to destroy the world's best website. Is there no end to their depravity?

May 04, 2009
To answer provoked: Yes, I have tried to go vegetarian. I nearly starved. If I don't eat meat in the evening, I am awake by 2 am, starved and unable to get back to sleep. I am unable to eat carbs for some reason, so all I CAN eat is meat, veggies, fruit and nuts. I eat constantly throughout the day, and eating meat is the only way I can get full and not eat for more than 2 hours at a stretch.

Provoked, I am glad it works for you, but it doesn't work for me. Vegan/vegetarian is no different than a religion when you try to force it on everyone. I don't eat A LOT, so leave me alone!

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