Friday, May 1, 2009


A couple of things have struck me about media coverage of the current swine flu pandemic. We have received regular updates about numbers of confirmed cases, details of cancelled holiday flights, Gordon Brown's latest reassurances about the readiness of the UK to tackle the illness. We have even learnt how many extra face masks the NHS have put on order. But as far as I know, very little seems to have been revealed about the causes of the outbreak. Why Mexico? Why now? Who are the victims and how did they become infected? One interesting story I did come across perhaps provides a clue. The pig farming industry is apparently objecting to the use of the name 'swine flu' as opposed to the less troublesome 'flu virus'.

The truth is unpalatable. Our seemingly insatiable appetite for cheap meat and the intensive way we rear pigs on factory farms is putting workers in the industry and the public at large at considerable risk, never mind the associated animal welfare issues. The Ecologist Film Unit has made a short film called Sick As A Pig, which sheds light on this murky state of affairs. As for me, I'll stick to my meat-free sausages, thanks.

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