HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Monday, May 04, 2009

 
Congratulations To Smithfield Foods!

by tristero

I missed this when it was announced in October, but Smithfield Foods won an environmental sustainability award.
Susan Forsell, Vice President Supply Chain, Quality Systems, McDonald's USA said, "Smithfield Foods deserves to be recognized for their innovative approaches to protect the environment, to ensure the safety of their employees, the well-being of animals, the quality of products, and to promoting education in the communities they serve."
That's right: Smithfield won an environmental sustainability award from McDonald's. What an honor! Of course, that must be a different Smithfield's than this one:
In 1999,[then head of Smithfield Joseph] Luter bought a state-owned company called Animex, one of Poland's biggest hog processors. Then he began doing business through a Polish subsidiary called Prima Farms, acquiring huge moribund Communist-era hog farms and converting them into concentrated feeding operations. Pork prices in Poland were low, so Smithfield's sweeping expansion didn't make strict economic sense, except that it had the virtue of pushing small hog farmers toward bankruptcy. By 2003, Animex was operating six subsidiary companies and seven processing plants, selling nine brands of meat and taking in $338 million annually.

The usual violations occurred. Near one of Smithfield's largest plants, in Byszkowo, an enormous pool of frozen pig shit, pumped into a lagoon in winter, melted and ran into two nearby lakes. The lake water turned brown; residents in local villages got skin rashes and eye infections; the stench made it impossible to eat. A recent report to the Helsinki Commission found that Smithfield's pollution throughout Poland was damaging the country's ecosystems. Overapplication was endemic. Farmers without permits were piping liquid pig shit directly into watersheds that fed into the Baltic Sea.
Actually, it is the same Smithfield Foods that won the award. I guess in the past 10 years they've gone green. And if you believe that, there's a hog farm down in Veracruz I'd like to sell you.

BTW, here's a video interview with current CEO of Smithfield Foods, Larry Pope. In it, he claims that swine flu isn't swine flu. Except he also agrees it is. It is simply impossible to parse most of what he's saying: his sentences make sense, but they just don't add up to a coherent meaning except for one thing: we're working darn hard to make sure you won't blame Smithfield. I, for one, believe him. They are indeed working darn hard to make sure you won't blame them. (Note: to date, there is no conclusive evidence tying Smithfield hog farms to the outbreak, despite the fact that most of the earliest recent cases occurred about 12 miles away from a Smithfield subsidiary with truly disgusting conditions. )

Pope also claims, among other things that no employee or pig has gotten sick from swine flu, which, to be kind, is disingenuous. Let's talk about the pigs first. The following statement appeared in a WHO FAQ about swine flu. It has since been removed, although a search of the sentence turns up references to it on their site as well as in this pdf:
The virus is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs.
In other words, the pigs don't need to have swine flu symptoms to spread swine flu (again, it is important to stress that obviously pork products you buy in a store cannot spread swine flu ). [Update: Swine flu has recently been found in Canadian pigs.]

As for employees at the hog farms, they too needn't be sick:
Although immunity to swine H1N1 viruses is low in the human population, a high proportion of persons occupationally exposed to pigs (such as pig farmers or pig veterinarians) have been shown in several studies to have antibody evidence of prior swine H1N1 flu infection.
Further swine flu news: The current virus appears to have first appeared in the US in 1998:
But let us be clear: the genetic sequences, which admirably are all being posted publicly, overwhelmingly confirm that the virus from Mexico is one of a type that has been circulating aggressively in North American pigs since 1998...

...based on the scientific details that have emerged in the past 24 hours from Andrew Rambaut's lab at the University of Edinburgh, it is clearer than ever that there is a direct link from pigs to the human swine flu virus.
[Note: I haven't read the material from Dr. Rambaut's lab.]

Some folks think all the swine flu brouhaha is just so much...swill... because so far, except in Mexico, the swine flu has been mild. First, the swine flu has been spreading rapidly all over the world. Secondly, as many people point out, the first wave of infections in the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 was relatively mild. It was later waves of infection that were the most serious. Thirdly, there is no vaccine for this strain of swine flu.

Is all this reason to panic? Of course not. We're not Republicans, for goodness sakes! But it is cause for serious concern [Update: the mortality rate has recently been estimated as being between 0.1 and 0.5%, about half the rate as the more standard flu. That doesn't mean swine flu is "mild." It simply underscores how dangerous all influenzas really are.]. And it is cause to investigate carefully and thoroughly how and where this virus originated and evolved.