Den nya influensan från Mexico, som förmodligen urspungligen kommer från svin- och kycklingfarmer drivna av ett stort jordbruksföretag, Granjas Carroll (i sin tur dotterbolag till US-amerikanska Smithfield Foods), kan sägas vara en produkt av produktionsförhållanden som skapats av den nya globaliserade storföretagsamheten på jordburksområdet. Stora enheter med enorma mängder grisar och kycklingar underlättar för influensavirus att mutera så att man kan få nya och eventuellt farigare varianter. Just denna gång verkar det dock inte ha uppståt nån extremt farlig variant, utan det verkar vara en ganska normalfarlig typ av influensa som nu eventuellt skapar en epidemi i världen, en pandemi.
The statement came after Mexico’s national public health authority, the Mexican social security institute, raised concerns that waste from the Granjas Carrol facility may be responsible for the outbreak of illness, according to local media.
”According to state agents of the Mexican social security institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement,” reported Mexico City newspaper La Jornada.
Swine flu can be caught through contact with infected animals, but it is unclear if contact with flies or excrement has the same effect.
A La Gloria resident who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity yesterday described how illness swept through the village. ”Some people started getting ill in February and an eight-month-old baby died,” she said. ”After that another baby died on 21 March. Suddenly most of the village got ill. It was weekend and the tiny clinic here was closed. The state health authorities then did send doctors and nurses to look after us, and give us medication. About 60% of the village were ill and we asked them what it was and they said it was a severe and atypical cold. We talked about influenza and they said that was impossible, that influenza had been eradicated from Mexico.”
Smithfield, which is led by pork baron Joseph W Luter III, has previously been fined for environmental damage in the US. In October 2000 the supreme court upheld a $12.6m (£8.6m) fine levied by the US environmental protection agency which found that the company had violated its pollution permits in the Pagan River in Virginia which runs towards Chesapeake Bay. The company faced accusations that faecal and other bodily waste from slaughtered pigs had been dumped directly into the river since the 1970s .
The outbreak of respiratory illness in the area of the Granjas Carroll plant was first detected at the beginning of this month by Veratect, a company based in Washington state which monitors the spread of disease and pandemics around the world for corporate clients.
On 6 April it reported local officials had declared a health alert. According to its dispatch: ”Sources characterised the event as a ‘strange’ outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to pneumonia in some paediatric cases. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town’s population, approximately 1,800 cases, has been affected.”
På grund av jordbruksmetodernas betydelse och storkapitalets betydelse för den nya influensan så kallas den för NAFTA-influensan av en del andra tidningar:
FIRST, WE know that agribusinesses are moving their companies into the Global South to take advantage of cheap labor and cheap land (something to which we will return). But companies are also engaging in sophisticated corporate strategy.
Agribusinesses are spreading their entire production line across the world. For example, the Thailand-based CP Group, now the world’s fourth-largest poultry producer, operates poultry facilities in Turkey, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the U.S. It has feed operations across India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Trade in live animals is also expanding in geographic extent.
These new configurations act as a cushion against the market’s putative ability to correct corporate inefficiencies.
For instance, the CP Group operates joint-venture poultry facilities across China, producing 600 million of China’s 2.2 billion chickens annually sold. When an outbreak of bird flu occurred in a farm operated by the CP group here in the province of Heilongjiang, Japan banned poultry from China. CP factories in Thailand were able to take up the slack and increase exports to Japan. In short, the CP Group profited from an outbreak of its own making. It suffered no ill effects from its own mistakes.
There is, then, another reason why the ‘swine flu’ tag fails. It detracts from an obvious point: pigs have very little to do with how influenza emerges.
They didn’t organize themselves into cities of thousands of immuno-compromised pigs. They didn’t artificially select out the genetic variation that could have helped reduce the transmission rates at which the most virulent influenza strains spread. They weren’t organized into livestock ghettos alongside thousands of industrial poultry. They don’t ship themselves thousands of miles by truck, train or air. Pigs do not naturally fly.
The onus must be placed on the decisions we humans made to organize them this way. And when we say ”we,” let’s be clear–we’re talking how agribusinesses have organized pigs and poultry.
Although considerable attention is being paid to the role of a particular company in the emergence of the new influenza, and rightfully so, we might better focus on the deregulation that allowed such porcinopolises to grow to the point that whole human communities are pushed off the land pigs now occupy.
So if we are to impart responsibility where it should lay, North America’s new influenza would be better called the NAFTA flu.
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Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om NAFTA, Influensa, Svininfluensa, Smtihfield Foods, Granjas Carrol, La Gloria, Jordbruksindustrin, Politik, Samhälle
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