Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Influenza, by Rob Wallace

By Rob Wallace

Thanks to breakthroughs in construction and meals technological know-how, agribusiness has been capable of devise new how you can develop extra meals and get it extra locations extra fast. there is not any scarcity of stories goods on thousands of hybrid bird – each one animal genetically just like the following – packed jointly in megabarns, grown out in an issue of months, then slaughtered, processed and shipped to the opposite aspect of the globe. much less renowned are the lethal pathogens mutating in, and rising out of, those really expert agro-environments. actually, a few of the most deadly new illnesses in people could be traced again to such meals structures, between them Campylobacter, Nipah virus, Q fever, hepatitis E, and various novel influenza variants.

                Agribusiness has recognized for many years that packing hundreds of thousands of birds or cattle jointly leads to a monoculture that selects for such affliction. yet industry economics does not punish the firms for growing to be enormous Flu – it punishes animals, the surroundings, shoppers, and agreement farmers. along transforming into gains, illnesses are approved to emerge, evolve, and unfold with little money. “That is,” writes evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace, “it can pay to provide a pathogen that may kill one thousand million people.”

                In Big Farms Make large Flu, a suite of dispatches through turns harrowing and thought-provoking, Wallace tracks the methods influenza and different pathogens emerge from an agriculture managed through multinational firms. Wallace info, with an exact and radical wit, the newest within the technology of agricultural epidemiology, whereas even as juxtaposing ghastly phenomena comparable to makes an attempt at generating featherless chickens, microbial time commute, and neoliberal Ebola. Wallace additionally deals good possible choices to deadly agribusiness. a few, equivalent to farming cooperatives, built-in pathogen administration, and combined crop-livestock platforms, are already in perform off the agribusiness grid.

                whereas many books disguise aspects of nutrients or outbreaks, Wallace's assortment seems the 1st to discover infectious ailment, agriculture, economics and the character of technology jointly. Big Farms Make titanic Flu integrates the political economies of sickness and technological know-how to derive a brand new knowing of the evolution of infections. hugely capitalized agriculture can be farming pathogens up to chickens or corn.

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Extra resources for Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Influenza, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science

Example text

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. 61 So if we are to impart responsibility where it should lie, North America’s new influenza would be better called the NAFTA flu. The North American Free Trade Agreement, pushed by Bill Clinton in 1993 and approved by a bipartisan Congress, reduced trade barriers The NAFTA Flu 35 across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

But if there is one thing I have learned in the reaction to our research report, that cooperation comes at a price. WHO willfully participates in China’s propaganda efforts to minimize, even deny, the government’s responsibilities for the outbreaks. Time and again, even as Chinese officials drag their feet releasing samples, WHO officials are called upon to deflect external criticism and praise China’s epidemiological openness (sunshine other countries must uphold as standard international practice).

But what if this particular influenza strain arose on Smithfield’s lots? Contrary to Reuters’ attempts to submarine a genuine possibility based on material facts on the ground—rather than conspiracies spun wholesale out of naught but paranoiac fantasy—the Food and Agriculture Organization is taking Smithfield’s putative role seriously enough to dispatch a team to Mexico to investigate. In a preemptive strike, Smithfield CEO Larry Pope announced the company’s Veracruz pigs clean of H1N1: 42 Big Farms Make Big Flu I am pleased to report that the results of the testing process conducted by the Mexican government have confirmed that no virus, including the human strain of A(H1N1) influenza, is present in the pig herd at Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM), our joint venture farm in Veracruz, Mexico.

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