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Mexicans Blame US Hog Farms For Flu

From an outraged Washington Post:

Mexicans Blame Industrial Hog Farms

By Steve Fainaru
Sunday, May 10, 2009

LA GLORIA, Mexico — For years, farmers in the communities that dot this arid valley complained about the effects of the industrial pig farms that had multiplied near their fields.

The overpowering stench gave them headaches and drove them from their homes. Packs of wild dogs feasted on discarded pig carcasses and occasionally turned on their children and pets. There were fears that vast lagoons of excrement from more than 1 million hogs might seep into their groundwater.

Health officials have found no connection between the pig farms, owned and operated by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, and the flu virus that paralyzed Mexico for much of the past two weeks. But the crisis, which appears to be abating, has inflamed tensions between the world’s largest hog producer and the poor neighboring communities here that have long warned that the farms are a danger to their health.

"To the people of this community, what brought about this problem was the pig farms," said Guillermo Franco Vázquez, the mayor of Perote, a county seat that has 22 farming communities, including La Gloria, in its jurisdiction. "To clear up this myth — or to confirm it as reality — we need more studies." …

With the crisis playing out, local residents and officials appear to be increasingly focused on the area’s relationship with Smithfield, which operates in Mexico under its subsidiary, Granjas Carroll de Mexico. The conglomerate, which had $11.4 billion in sales last year, has made the Perote Valley a cog in its global expansion, an aggressive strategy that has frequently put the company at odds with the local population.

In 2007, hundreds of protesters blocked a federal highway in an effort to halt construction of a pig farm near La Gloria. Mexican officials say the company responded by pressing criminal charges against five residents who were perceived as leading the demonstration, including a 66-year-old farmer who was forced to sell his corn crop to defend himself. Smithfield has denied any involvement. The case is still pending.

Bertha Crisostomo, an elected La Gloria official who was also charged — Perote’s mayor posted her bail — said she believes that Smithfield has targeted residents who object to the company’s expansion because of health and environmental concerns. Crisostomo said she supports local investment, but added: "Our health is not up for negotiation."

"The only good thing Granjas Carroll has going right now is really good lawyers — legal representatives who can tie up the people," said Fidel Herrera Beltrán, the Veracruz governor, during an interview in Jalapa, the state capital. "Instead of spending money to go after these people, it would have been easier for them to maintain good terms with the government of Veracruz and its citizens, to make social investments, to open clinics, to reforest the land." Herrera said he was working to get the case against the five La Gloria protesters dismissed.

Smithfield declined to make officials from the parent company or Granjas Carroll available for comment. In an e-mail, Gregg Schmidt, president of international operations for Murphy-Brown LLC, Smithfield’s hog production subsidiary, wrote that Smithfield had nothing to do with the criminal action against La Gloria residents. Granjas Carroll receives random quarterly inspections from Mexico’s environmental protection agency, he wrote, and conducts monthly tests for swine diseases, including influenza.

The company "believes that it has had no negative impact on the local community or the environment through its operations," Schmidt wrote.

Smithfield employs 907 people, making it the largest employer in the Perote Valley. The company works with 262 local service providers, according to the state, pays federal taxes and contributes 2 percent of its payroll, about $125,000 last year, to support Veracruz’s infrastructure. The company said it has funded reforestation and irrigation and has provided computer equipment to local schools.

But relations between Smithfield and the local population are so strained that the state official who signed the 1993 deal to bring the company to Veracruz refuses to visit Perote "because I don’t want the confrontation," said Miguel Rolón García, the director of economic development.

Smithfield moved into Mexico in anticipation of the expanding market after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Granjas Carroll is a 50-50 joint venture between Smithfield and Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico

To sum up, Mexicans are is blaming the US for their ‘Swine Flu’ even though there is no connection between these US-owned pig farms and the non-pandemic.

Of course none of these details matter to the Washington Post, who got the opportunity to decry how American companies are oppressing our southern neighbors with farms and jobs.

Oh, and then there’s the minor point buried deep in the article:

Smithfield moved into Mexico in anticipation of the expanding market after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Granjas Carroll is a 50-50 joint venture between Smithfield and Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico.

So these farms are only half owned by Smithfield. The other half is owned by a Mexican company.

And yet all we hear about in this piece of disinformation is Smithfield.

Why is that?

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 10th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Mexicans Blame US Hog Farms For Flu”

  1. catie says:

    Of course it’s our fault; who else would be at fault? Smithfield owns half but gets the entire blame for this “pandemic”. Yeah, that sounds about right.

  2. proreason says:

    The real root causes, of course, are Yankee imperialism and capitalism.

    For without those factors, there would be no pig farms, and no opportunity to lie about them.

    And the Mexican peasants would be happily squatting on dirt floors of their grass shacks, free of the shackles of the modern world, dieing in their 30’s, and none the wiser.

    Kind of like we will be doing in America if the TMCC gets its way.

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Hey, “Blame America”, right?

    After all, if it’s good enough for Bo-Bo….it’s good enough for meh-hee-co.

  4. TwilightZoned says:

    Maybe the money to study pig stench in Iowa isn’t really for Iowa…yeah, that’s the ticket.

  5. GL0120 says:

    Calling TCO, calling TCO, we are in dire need of an apology for having spread Swine Flu!!!!

  6. MinnesotaRush says:

    Where’s the chick with the “I’m sorry .. so sorry” song? You know .. o-blah-blah’s remake America’s new national anthem.

    She was just here yesterday ….

  7. GetBackJack says:

    Once again, I am contrary to the rash statements here …

    1. This is a disinformation and misinformation campaign waged by highly skilled PR professionals against SMITHFIELD. A company I have no love for, but facts are facts that SMITHFIELD is being singled out for a disinformation campaign. This pogrom against SMITHFIELD began several years ago and even Paula Dean has taken enormous flak for sticking up for SMITHFIELD products.

    2. The ‘raison d’tre’ of this campaign against SMITHFIELD (a) originates in the size and prominence of SMITHFIELD as the leading operator of ‘confined animal production facilities’ and (b) because of SMITHFIELD’s refusal to cooperate with state and federal officials in cleaning up their act.

    3. The ’cause’ of the PR campaign against confined animal facilities finds its origins in North Carolina, where swine factories were responsible for setting loose piscaderia pfisteria … a flesh eating and central nervous system destroying bacteria present in swine excrement.

    4. North Carolina legislators were caught red handed rigging state laws to favor this industry to such a degree that not only did it become against the law to inspect these animal factories with 100,000+ higs , it became against the law for even the Feds to inquire about their location or to inspect them.

    5. Hogs produce 3x – 5x as much effluent as a man or woman, and where civilization has gone to great lengths in funding and developing civic sewage systems for sanitation and public health, there are no laws on the books in the states that favor hog factories dealing with the outflow of swine sewage … in amounts that stagger the imagination. Consequently there have been massive public health risks we are only now beginning to uncover. Naturally, the media has been complicit where staggering profits have made lagislators rich.

    6. There’s a verifiable, documented and indisputable 7,000 sq mile dead-zone where the Mississippi meets the Gulf traceable directly back to hog factories. Immense overloads of nitrogen and chemicals. This unregulated outflow can and has caused spontaneous abortions amongst other environmental atrocities along with spinal, neural and nervous system diseases and traumas along with elevated risks to infant and nursing mother health.

    Someone, very clever in the media and in media manipulation, has tied the swine flu epidemic to the cause celebre’ of confined animal production facilities.

    It ain’t necessarily so … but the danger of swine factories cannot be over-stated.

    So, you may correctly conclude that this report is part and parcel of the old mafia standby … the protection racket Jesse Jackson has learned so well. Pay me and I’ll lay off the PR campaign that’s damaging you and your stock value. But at the same time confined animal facilities are truly hideous health hazards … so this is really like two great criminal enterprises whacking away at each other.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Does this mean you “WON”T” be having bacon or sausage with your stack of wheat cakes?
      (just kidding)

    • GL0120 says:

      A 7,000 square mile DEAD ZONE?????
      Please provide verifiable references for this assertion.

  8. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    So,…before the pig farms came and hypothetically poisoned their water with their bodily waste, what was wrong with the quality of their water beforehand? I mean ever since I was old enough to understand the world about me, I was always hearing stories of tourists going to Mexico, drinking the water, and then coming down with a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge.

  9. GetBackJack says:

    BIG is the problem.

    It’s a matter of concentration of wastes. In the past, like when I was a kid, hog farms were not 100,000 strong.

    It’s the same with medicines …. the right dosage can heal, a slightly higher concentration of the same chemical compounds will kill.

    And I swing my own hams. And cure my own bacon.

    Hogs one at a time are not a problem. But try to imagine a city of 300,000 pouring their waste effluvia on fields and streams and catchement ponds. Every day. That’s what a 100,000 hog facility is like.

    BIG is the problem. Big government, Big transportation, Big oil, Big finance, Bog insurance, Big medicine, Big education, Big religion, Big labor, Big politics … etc etc etc ….BIG is the problem.

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