Animal Aid

Swine Flu: British pig industry leaders 'reckless and selfish'

Posted 30 April 2009

Preliminary scientific and on-the-ground evidence strongly suggest that intensive pig production is a key factor in the development of the current devastating swine flu outbreak. Inevitably, British pig industry leaders are desperate to shake off any guilt and seem wholly concerned with urging the public to keep buying their products for fear of damaging their profits.

Animal Aid has recently completed the biggest undercover investigation of British pig farming in memory and found appalling conditions at industrial units operated by directors of the leading industry body, the British Pig Executive. Among the scenes we filmed were: dead, sick and dying piglets littering the pens; animals lying in or wading through filth, blood and afterbirth; and prematurely dead adults dumped in uncovered yards.

While the media has legitimately concentrated on appalling scenes of the Mexican factory pig farm, which is suspected of being a source of the outbreak, a British industry-induced catastrophe is just as likely to be triggered in this country.

Animal Aid, as part of its investigations, has made more than 20 visits to pig farms during the past year and repeatedly found an incendiary mix of disease, crowding and filth. At one West Country farm, we found dustbins overflowing with used veterinary product bottles and syringes. Among the conditions the products were intended to treat were: pneumonia, respiratory disease, diarrhoea, wasting and dehydration. The discarded containers included one for a vaccine used against swine erysipelas, among whose symptoms are high fever, congestive cardiac failure and death.

Animal Aid’s evidence indicates that the drugs concerned are commonly used throughout the industry and signal a losing battle with a range of serious diseases, whose high incidence is a product of remorselessly intensive rearing conditions.

Says Animal Aid Head of Campaigns, Kate Fowler:

‘The British pig industry’s concerted attempts to shake off all responsibility for the appropriately named swine flu is not just self-serving, it is reckless, selfish and hostile to the public. Swine flu is merely the latest in a series of major human disease outbreaks with clear links to intensive animal farming. They include BSE, campylobacter, E. coli, salmonella and MRSA. Bird flu might be off the front page but it is still killing people. The farming link with MRSA is so clearly established that all Dutch pig farmers, half of whom carry the superbug, must now go into quarantine upon admission to hospital.

‘For its own protection, the public must wake up to the irreducible truth that when animals are oppressed to the extent that they are in today’s animal farming systems, a great many of those animals will be diseased and enfeebled, and that people will also pay a high price.’

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