Johann Hari: Life-threatening disease is the price we pay for cheap meat

Modern factory farms have created a 'perfect storm' environment for powerful viruses
1 May 2009

A swelling number of scientists believe swine flu has not happened by accident. No: they argue that this global pandemic – and all the deaths we are about to see – is the direct result of our demand for cheap meat. So is the way we produce our food really making us sick as a pig?

... The scientific evidence increasingly suggests that we have unwittingly invented an artificial way to accelerate the evolution of these deadly viruses – and pump them out across the world. They are called factory farms. They manufacture low-cost flesh, with a side-dish of viruses to go. ...

Instead of having just 20 pigs to experiment and evolve in, the virus now has a pool of thousands, constantly infecting and reinfecting each other. The virus can combine and recombine again and again. The ammonium from the waste they live above burns the pigs' respiratory tracts, making it easier yet for viruses to enter them. Better still, the pigs' immune systems are in free-fall. They are stressed, depressed, and permanently in panic, making them far easier to infect. There is no fresh air or sunlight to bolster their natural powers of resistance. They live in air thick with viral loads, and they are exposed every time they breathe in.

As Dr Michael Greger, director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States, explains: "Put all this together, and you have a perfect storm environment for these super-strains. If you wanted to create global pandemics, you'd build as many of these factory farms as possible. ...


One Response to “Johann Hari: Life-threatening disease is the price we pay for cheap meat”

Steven L.

I have no love for factory farms, but isn’t it possible that biological warfare may also be at work here? Sorry folks, but the Spanish Flu was about as deadly as you can get as far as natural pandemics: Anything more than 100 million deaths and you’d HAVE to consider the probability that some man-made virii somehow made their way into the world, mixing with naturally occurring ones such as the ones in these factory farms.

Leave a Reply