As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Answer Is We Don't Know

The first US victim of swine flu is a 23 month-old child who died in Texas. However, he was infected in Mexico. The danger of this strain of flu will probably not be apparent until the fall, when we see if it mutates. Right now, it's harmful, but not more so than other flu viruses, which kill thousands annually, usually those who are vulnerable like children and the elderly. If it mutates into something more dangerous, we won't be able to mitigate the effects as well. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

...Meanwhile, the Organic Consumers Association has demanded that Smithfield close its factory farms that may have contributed to the virus.

Factory farms, such as Smithfield, dose pigs with massive amounts of antibiotics and vaccines, resulting in swine incubating and spreading antibiotic-resistant pathogens and mutated viruses. This is considered a major human health hazard by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Given these serious public health concerns, a number of health and safety organizations have called for limits or bans on the use of antibiotics in livestock farming including the American Public Health Association, American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. .

Organic Consumers Association and Via Organica are calling on their hundreds of thousands of members in the US and Mexico to contact Mexican President Calderon and his Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cardenas and US President Obama and his Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and urge them to:

• Immediately ban Confined Animal Feeding Operations (hog, beef, and chicken factory farms) across the United States and end the dangerous practice of feeding antibiotics to farm animals.

• Initiate a criminal investigation of Smithfield Foods and other major factory farms that could be a source of disease outbreaks.

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