Swine flu, pig farming, and Sir Roger

I’m scared of the swine flu.

As someone who has compromised respiratory functions and an antibiotic allergy (and I am aware that antibiotics don’t kill viruses, such as that which causes swine flu, but they do cure consequent bacterial infections) swine flu could be a death sentence for me.

So who is to blame for putting my health and possibly my life at risk. Well, according to this article in The Guardian, which is one of the few MSM media outlets I have some respect for, it is the factory pig farmers:

North Carolina has the densest pig population in North America, with around twice as many swine mega-factories as any other state. In 1998, North Carolina’s pig population had hit ten million, up from two million just six years before. Yet the number of hog farms was decreasing, with more and more animals being crammed into fewer and fewer farms. Since the primary route of swine flu transmission is thought to be the same as human flu, the increased potential for the spread of disease in such conditions is clear.

More research is urgently needed to explore the potential link between industrialised animal farming, and the spread of disease. Some elements of the Mexican media are already pointing to the potential role of intensive pig farming in Mexico, which has grown substantially in recent years, with some giant operations raising tens of thousands of pigs at a time.

Guess it is the intensive pig farmers who have done this, including the hero of New Zealand’s right, Roger Douglas.

Guess what, Sir Roger, you can’t fight nature, no matter how much money you can make through trying, because it will always come back to bite you on the bum.

Roger the pig farmer

When the Mike King pig farm visit story broke, Sue Kedgley talked about getting a cross-party delegation of MPs together to go and inspect some of the country’s pig farms.

I’m not sure how she’s going recruiting MPs from other parties, but I’d bet good money that one particular MP won’t be on her delegation.

On September 14 1991 The New Zealand Herald reported that Sunshine Pig Farms Ltd, situated at Old Great South Road, Ramarama, near Drury in South Auckland had gone into receivership the previous day, but that the receiver would continue to trade. Managed by Roger Douglas Associates the property kept 5,000 pigs in stalls. The article goes on to report that earlier in the year the company was fined $5,000 in the Otahuhu District Court and ordered to pay $9,419.79 in costs for spilling 30,000 cubic metres of effluent into the Manukau Harbour and surrounding countryside. The spillage occurred when the largest of a series of oxidation ponds on the farm burst its embankment. When Sir Roger Douglas was questioned about his pig-farming enterprise he is reported as saying: “There is money in it.”

On March 4 1992 the Holmes Programme exposed the horrors of the sow stall in a programme which featured pig-farmer ex-Minister of Finance Roger Douglas, in which criticism was levelled at this former politician for his factory farming activities. Holmes reported that prior to screening the programme he was contacted by the Managing Director of the Pork Marketing Board, Dave Dobson, who reminded him what the Board spends advertising its products on television!

Roger Douglas in charge of a pig farm is like Richard Worth in charge of a beauty pageant – everything’s rooted about it!

This little piggy went to the WTO

Wouldn’t it be great to see an end to the torture of pigs in factory pig farms? Just change the code and/or the Animal Welfare Act, prohibit the importation of pig meat that cannot be certified as free range, and it could be done overnight. Right?

Um, no, wrong!

The problem is the WTO. We can’t under the WTO prohibit the importation of factory farmed pig meat without facing punitive retalliatory action. WTO rules supersede our national sovereignty in that regard.

I’m very uncomfortable that the “free trade” requirements of the WTO over-ride our ability to make domestic law to protect animals from the sort of barbaric exploitation we’ve seen over the past few days.

I’m also say that I’m very uncomfortable that they over-ride our ability to keep unsustainably produced goods, like kwila timber and palm kernel, out of New Zealand.

This is a big call, and New Zealand is a small player on the international stage. But should we not be standing up and calling for WTO reform to help the world rid itself of cruel and unsustainable agricultural and forestry practises?

But short of WTO reform to put environmental and animal welfare considerations on a higher footing than freedom of trade, which our Government should be lobbying for, we can still do something.

We can enforce country of origin labeling of food products. That way, assuming we also clean up our own pig stys, consumers can make the choice to not purchase pork from those countries that continue to tolerate the cruelty of factory farming.