CivilEater alerted us that Broadcaster France 24's citizen-journalist site, the Observer, is now featuring photos by a resident of Veracruz, Mexico (originally posted here) of what purports to be the Granjas Carroll pig CAFO -- the factory farm near ground zero of the Mexican Swine Flu outbreak (whether the virus arose at the facility, of course, remains unresolved). Given the strenuous defense that Larry Pope CEO of Smithfield, the facility's co-owner, gave during his recent CNBC interview of his "biosecurity protocols" -- which included the interviewer's waving around of a hefty, bright red "biosecurity manual" to which all Smithfield CAFO's must faithfully adhere -- it may come as a surprise to learn that the Granjas Carroll farm is a putrid, fetid mess. Well, maybe it doesn't. Here are two of his photos. One shows a manure lagoon complete with broken and leaking pipe while the other features dead pigs casually tossed against a fence. I'm thinking this isn't exactly ripped from the pages of the Smithfield biosecurity manual.
The point of this isn't just to gross you out or even to suggest that the report confirms anything about the source of the current Swine Flu outbreak. But imagine the hundreds of thousands of pigs living in these conditions in the Mexican countryside and then imagine the tens of millions of pigs in the US (not to mention those in Europe and Asia) also living in CAFOS -- no small number of which may be in an identical condition -- and ask yourself if we can afford the risks that companies like Smithfield have thrust upon us. In an age when we've seen lethal viruses jump from pigs and birds into humans, when we know that the current swine flu strain DID arise in a CAFO (in North Carolina in 1998), when we're already seeing the H1N1 virus gain a resistence to existing anti-virus drugs like Tamiflu, how can we possibly allow this style of agriculture to continue?
Photos by Cesar Augusto Vazquez Chagoya