Analysis by Emily Sohn
Sat Nov 10, 2012 04:42 AM ET

http://youtu.be/gYTkM1OHFQg  Calves in horrible situations

Living near an industrial-scale hog farm could be hazardous to your health.

Just 10 minutes of exposure to smells from swine operations in North Carolina was enough to raise the blood pressure of people who lived nearby, found a new study.

North Carolina’s swine farms lie disproportionately close to low-income, non-white communities, causing the farms to be fingered by some advocates as a classic example of environmental racism, said lead author Steve Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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To study the health effects of eastern North Carolina’s hog farms, Wing and colleagues partnered with community-based organizations, which helped them connect with residents who were skeptical of the researchers’ intentions.

“Most participants were African-American,” Wing said at a recent meeting of the Council for the Advancement of Science in Raleigh. “People were peeking out to see why a white person was in the neighborhood. There was a lot of distrust of scientists. We never would have been able to conduct this study without our community partners.”

For about two weeks, 101 adults who lived in 16 neighborhoods within 1.5 miles of industrial swine farms sat outside their homes twice a day for 10 minutes each time. Afterwards, they recorded the strength of the ambient smell on a scale from zero to eight and they took blood-pressure measurements. At the same time, the researchers recorded levels of various pollutants in the air.

For every extra point reported on the odor scale, participants’ blood pressure went up by small but incremental amounts, the researchers reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Compared to times when there was no smell detected, level-eight odors were associated with a two-mmHg rise in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). And higher levels of hydrogen sulfide gas were associated with a three-mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure (the top number).

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Previous studies have linked bad odors from swine farms with higher levels of stress in nearby residents as well as with irritation to eyes, noses and throats. The new findings, Wing said, are “a sign that the environment is related not only to our perception, but to our physiology.”

And even though measured blood-pressure increases were small, every little bit adds up.

“This region is known as a stroke belt,” Wing said. “We don’t need additional environmental exposures leading to additional blood pressure increases.”

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Finnish Farms` Report

Police to investigate reports of serious animal cruelty at Finnish farms

Video footage on TV programme sparks outcry Helsingin Sanomat International Edition


Police to investigate reports of serious animal cruelty at Finnish farms
Police to investigate reports of serious animal cruelty at Finnish farms
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Police are to investigate claims of serious animal welfare violations at farms raising pigs and poultry in the south of Finland. An animal rights group has released photographs and videos it had taken at 101 farms indicating widespread mistreatment of animals.
The material collected by the activists is very persuasive. Pig pens and chicken cages are dirty, and many of the animals appear to be tired and sick. Injured and even dead animals can be seen in some of the videos.
      The footage was reportedly taken over a period of one year at Finnish pig and chicken farms. Some of the videos were televised on Wednesday evening on a current affairs programme of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.
      Robin Lardot, the Chief Inspector of Police at the Ministry of the Interior says that the Supreme Police Command has asked for an assessment as to whether or not a preliminary investigation is warranted.
      He compares the case to an uproar over dog fighting in Britain in September, where the BBC revealed that the illegal dog fighting business had reached Finland.
      „That case was investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)“, he said.
Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green) says that the ministry will examine whether or not an aggravated level of animal protection violations should be added to the law, allowing for more severe punishments.
      Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre) says that the Finnish food Safety Authority (EVIRA) will ask for more information about the farms depicted in the videos.
      Akuliina Saarikoski, information officer of the Oikeutta Eläimille („Justice for Animals“) organisation says that the organisation can give precise information on where each of the videos was taken. However, she will not disclose who shot the footage.
„The camera operators have said that none of the farms had been broken into. They entered buildings whose doors were open.
      In her view, the video cavalcade gives a comprehensive and representative image of factory farming in Finland. There are pictures from 20 chicken farms, which represent a quarter of chicken production in Finland.
      All of the farms had some shortcomings.
      Vuokko Puurla, a veterinarian of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) feels that the claims made by the organisation are exaggerated. She feels that EU inspections have indicated that Finnish farm animals live in mainly good conditions.
      She questioned the motives of the organisation in question, saying that its aim is to end animal production in Finland completely. However, she conceded that the conditions shown in the videos were truly shocking.

  „The reality of Finnish factory farming revealed!“

Helsinki: Animal Rights Activists Carry Dead Pigs to Protest

http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english print | close window

Animal rights activists carry dead pigs in downtown Helsinki protest

Central Union of Agricultural Producers disapproved of the demonstration

Animal rights activists carry dead pigs in downtown Helsinki protest
The Oikeutta Eläimille (”Justice for Animals”) organisation staged a protest on Wednesday afternoon, displaying carcasses of piglets at The Three Smiths’ statue in downtown Helsinki.
      ”These piglets less than four weeks of age weigh a couple of kilos. They were dumped by a pig farm after they had died”, reported Anne Nieminen, the information officer of the organisation.
      ”We planned to hold a protest before Christmas, as we wanted to remind people of the fact that behind every ham on the table there is a pig that has been suffering in a piggery and died as a result of that”, she said.
The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) characterised the stunt as an insult to both the producers and consumers of pigs.
      The Finnish Food Safety Authority EVIRA also delpored the incident on health grounds.
Five owners of pig farms have expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling by the Salo District Court last week, according to which a group of animal activists who had shot videotape showing poor conditions at a pig farm was acquitted of all charges of aggravated defamation.
      The prosecutor has also expressed discontent with the decision.
      The main defendant was given a 20-day suspended sentence for disturbing the public peace, but all other charges were rejected.
      The court also rejected the pig farmers’ demands for more than EUR 150,000 in monetary restitution.