The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer.1 Its conclusion is rocking the health world with startling bluntness: Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives.
Charts: How Big Pork Screws Small Towns
—By Tom Philpott
| Mon Nov. 12, 2012 4:08 AM PST
please, watch my blog, too: www.schweingehabt.wordpress.com/
I've argued often that the food system functions like an economic sieve, draining away wealth. Imagine, say, a suburb served by a handful of fast-food chains plus a supermarket or…
Flu infections rising among Chinese pigs: study by Staff Writers Paris (AFP) May 07, 2013
Scientists said Wednesday that flu infections were rising among pigs raised for slaughter on farms in south and southeastern China, also plagued by bird flu.
And the risk of spillover to humans was “constant or growing”, according to one of the authors of a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Pigs are an important source of new human strains of influenza A, such as the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic that emerged in Mexico and infected an estimated fifth of the world’s population.
Pigs can act as a “mixing vessel” in a process known as reassortment, brewing new flu strains from swine, poultry and human viruses in areas where they live in close proximity.
Such new hybrids can be deadly — tens of millions of people died in flu pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968.
Luckily, the 2009 strain was about as lethal as the ordinary seasonal flu, though highly infectious.
China is currently in the grips of a deadly H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed 27 people since March, mainly in the country’s east — overlapping with the study area.
H7N9 has not been traced to pigs and has not been shown to jump from person to person, but is being closely watched for genetic changes that may make this possible.
An article in the science journal Nature last month highlighted that H7N9 seems to be circulating in areas of China that have large populations of pigs and humans “providing opportunities for further adaptation to mammals and for reassortment with human- or pig-adapted viruses”.
For the new study, an international team of disease experts analysed data collected at an abattoir in Hong Kong over a 12-year period from 1998 to 2010, to learn more about the spread of flu among pigs.
Such information may be useful to prevent future pandemic jumps from animals to humans.
The team analysed the results of tests for virus infection at time of slaughter, as well as tests for antibodies which would indicate the pig had previously been infected and was now immune.
They observed a drop in positive virus tests by the time the pigs reached the abattoir but, worryingly, concluded this did not mean there was less infection.
“Instead, it reflects higher rates of influenza circulation on the farms where pigs are raised, so that they have already been infected (and so they’re immune) by the time they’re going to slaughter,” co-author James Lloyd-Smith of the University of California in Los Angeles told AFP by email.
The conclusion was derived from a corresponding rise in positive antibody tests.
“The prevalence of infection in swine has not decreased and so the risk of spillover to humans or birds is constant or growing,” added Lloyd-Smith.
China is a priority for flu surveillance given the high densities of humans, swine and fowl in the region, the team wrote.
“Currently, China produces and consumes almost 50 percent of the world’s pork, requiring an enormous swine population.”
The authors stressed their findings did not mean that flu was more prevalent in pigs in China than in other countries for which data mostly did not exist.
The Chinese data was a rare example of long-term, systematic surveillance of influenza in swine, and should be commended, they said.
But important lessons can be extrapolated for application worldwide — mainly to boost surveillance.
A case in point — the team said elements of the H1N1 pandemic strain had been circulating undetected in swine for more than 10 years before the 2009 outbreak started in Mexico.
Keeping an eye on influenza spread among pigs could “help us to avoid such nasty surprises in the future,” said Lloyd-Smith.
Last week, a study in the journal Science showed it was possible for H1N1 to swap genes with H5N1 bird flu, which is deadly for humans but not transmissible from person to person, to create a hybrid that can spread in the air between mammals — in that case guinea pigs.
Last Thursday, on April 18, a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design brought a live chicken into the school’s cafeteria. In front of spectators, the student slowly cut the throat of the writhing and screaming bird. The student proceeded to bleed the chicken out, remove the head and feathers and drop the bird into a pot--all under the guise of performance art.
Overcrowding on farms behind mystery of China’s floating pigs
http://uk.reuters. com/article/ 2013/04/24/ us-china- farming-pigs- idUKBRE93N1C7201 30424
http://uk.reuters. com/article/ 2013/04/24/ us-china- farming-pigs- idUKBRE93N1C7201 30424
By Adam Jourdan
JIAXING, China | Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:36pm BST
JIAXING, China (Reuters) – Overcrowding on farms around Shanghai was the underlying factor that led to 16,000 dead pigs floating down the Huangpu river into China’s affluent financial centre, according to an analysis of official documents and interviews with farmers in the region.
The appearance last month of carcasses of rotting hogs in a river that supplies tap water to the eastern Chinese city was a morbid reminder of the pressures facing China’s mostly small-scale farmers as the country grapples with food safety scares, environmental pressures and, most recently, a bird flu outbreak.
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Until now the main reason for Shanghai’s startling outbreak of dead hogs appeared to have been a local government crackdown on criminal gangs that had been selling abandoned carcasses as meat on the black market, meaning fewer ended up in the river.
But a deeper look suggests that an unsustainable level of overcrowding — a key factor in the spread of disease and death rates — was the critical issue. Experts warn that if conditions are not improved the incident may not have been a one-off.
“We can’t let things go on the way they are or it won’t just be the 10,000 or so pigs in the river this year, we’ll see more in the coming years,” said Xu Yafeng, CEO of NX28, a specialist web platform for agricultural information.
In an acknowledgement of the problem, officials launched a plan late last year to slash the number of pigs in the region — a drive that may have made things worse in the short-term by cutting the amount of land available for farming before there was a corresponding reduction in livestock.
The number of pigs in Jiaxing, a city just to the west of Shanghai identified as the main source of the dead pigs, more than doubled over the last two decades. It hit 7.5 million in 2012, even as the local government cut the amount of land available for farmers.
This overcrowding of pigs led to the city-wide plan to cut hog numbers to below 2 million within just two years.
” the winter to this spring, the trend of dead pigs has been particularly serious,” Wang Xianjun, a local environmental official, told the Jiaxing Daily in March.
“We keep digging more pits to deal with the dead pigs, but if it carries on like this, they won’t be able to take them.”
Wang’s words proved prophetic. Just four days later, the first reports emerged of pigs drifting down the Huangpu.
Local officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment.
China’s booming demand for meat has the potential to create ever more crowded farms, ripe for the spread of disease. Pork demand is expected to grow around 20 percent from 2012 levels to 60 million tons by 2020, according to a recent Rabobank report.
The number of small hog farmers around Jiaxing climbed over the last few years as pork prices surged, resulting in far too many pigs for the land available.
Data from a Nanhu district government document in September shows in 2011 the key hog farming town of Xinfeng had a level of 15.3 pigs per mu (667 sq meters), three times higher than the level of five hogs per mu local officials recommended in August 2012. The nearby village of Fengqiao had levels of 10 hog per mu.
“Disease and mortality rates among the pigs have got worse every year,” said one woman in the farming area of Henggang on the outskirts of Jiaxing. “In some areas this year mortality rates were probably as high as 30 percent.”
The normal mortality rate for pigs in China is around 3 to 5 percent, Fang Yan, the deputy head of the rural department of China’s state planning bureau, told a news conference in Beijing.
The high density of pig farms, and the poor farm management that is often associated with small-scale farming operations, are key risk factors for porcine circovirus — a common disease among pigs that is the most likely killer of the floating hogs — according to many academic and scientific papers.
Since 2012, however, oversupply has driven pork prices down sharply. Between the end of January and mid-March this year, prices tumbled 16.2 percent.
This had a further impact on disease and mortality rates –when prices are weak, farmers tend to take less care of their livestock, said Tao Shi, a Shanghai-based expert on hog farming.
Increasingly aware of the urgency of the issue, the Jiaxing government launched its plan last September to reduce the number of hogs by two-thirds and to slash the amount of land available for farming by around 40 percent.
“DESTROY THE PIG PENS“
Since the carcasses were discovered in the Huangpu, the response has accelerated. A visit to several farming districts around Jiaxing revealed empty sties, which locals said had been recently vacated for demolition.
Three local women in Henggang told Reuters that pig farmers were being given financial incentives to abandon the land, while one official sign, recently painted on the wall of a nearby factory, read: “Destroy the pig pens, lead a happy life.”
Many farmers are not happy. One 40-year-old said he has been ordered to close down his farm, while another farmer Reuters interviewed was in the middle of selling his pigs at a loss of 150 yuan ($24) per head after being told his farm contravened the regulations. Neither wanted their names used.
“They can’t just do it this way and wipe us out so fast,” the farmer said, as all but one of his pigs were taken away in two crowded trucks over the space of 30 minutes.
The surge of dead pigs demonstrates the wider pressures China’s farmers now confront. Limited land access, falling pork prices, tighter profit margins and the rapid spread of urbanization forces some farmers off the land entirely. Others are pushed to farm in ever more crowded conditions.
Many Chinese pig farmers use medicated feed containing antibiotics to help stave off disease, but cost pressures have led some to cut back on expensive vaccines in favor of giving medication later when illness strikes. Others skirt incineration costs by dumping livestock.
David Mahon, Beijing-based managing director of Mahon China Investment Management said the pressure on farmers’ margins was huge, which could lead to some farmers cutting corners.
“If you push (farmers) to this point, they’ll do anything to save costs.” ($1 = 6.1791 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Jane Lee; Additional reporting by Anita Li in SHANGHAI and Eleven Du and David Stanway in BEIJING; Editing by Bill Powell and Alex Richardson)
- CHINA Pollution? 6,000 Dead Pigs in River Not Affecting Shanghai’s Water, Officials Insist (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Pigs Pollute Shanghai River Due to Corrupt Business Culture (theepochtimes.com)
- Overcrowding on Farms Behind Mystery of China’s Floating Pigs (scientificamerican.com)
- Overcrowding on farms behind mystery of China’s floating pigs (xe.com)
- Overcrowding on farms behind mystery of China’s floating pigs (reuters.com)
Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 2:00 PM UTC
Can slaughterhouses be humane?
Prather Ranch Meat Company, which kills its cattle painlessly, bills itself as an ethical beef producer
By Mac McClelland
(Credit: Reuters/Mike Cassese)
This piece originally appeared in Modern Farmer.
A $5.25 all-beef hot dog at the Stang’s Hot Dogs and Sausages stand in the Corte Madera mall in Marin County, California, is labeled with enough buzzwords to satisfy the most discerning of foodies.
Factory farms are not farms: They are concentration camps for animals: Op-Ed:
Their abusive industrial system is so disgusting that America's consumers would gag at the sight of it.