Start A Petition

Doth Smithfield Protest Too Much? Swine Flu Brings Focus to Factory Farm Practices

Business  (tags: farming, farms, consumers, abuse, Factory Farming, influenza, swine flu, ethics )

- 3546 days ago -
As I wrote earlier this week, the virus formerly known as the swine flu (although the CDC continues to say that indeed the H1N1 strain does, as initially reported, contain swine, human and avian virus components) seems quite likely to have links


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Raffi LidoRoiz (301)
Friday May 1, 2009, 5:08 pm


Dee C (23)
Friday May 1, 2009, 5:15 pm
Indeed protest too much..
Thanks Rafael..

Joycey B (750)
Friday May 1, 2009, 5:37 pm
Noted with thanks Rafael.

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday May 1, 2009, 6:05 pm

Swine Flu May Have Evolved At US Hog Farms

Past Member (0)
Friday May 1, 2009, 6:32 pm

The excrement of Smithfield hogs is hardly even pig sh*t: On a continuum of pollutants, it is probably closer to radioactive waste than to organic manure. The reason it is so toxic is Smithfield's efficiency.
Smithfield's holding ponds -- the company calls them lagoons -- cover as much as 120,000 square feet. The area around a single slaughterhouse can contain hundreds of lagoons, some of which run thirty feet deep. The liquid in them is not brown. The interactions between the bacteria and blood and afterbirths and stillborn piglets and urine and excrement and chemicals and drugs turn the lagoons pink.

Even light rains can cause lagoons to overflow; major floods have transformed entire counties into pig-sh*t bayous. To alleviate swelling lagoons, workers sometimes pump the sh*t out of them and spray the waste on surrounding fields, which results in what the industry daintily refers to as "overapplication." This can turn hundreds of acres -- thousands of football fields -- into shallow mud puddles of pig sh*t. Tree branches drip with pig sh*t.

Some pig-farm lagoons have polyethylene liners, which can be punctured by rocks in the ground, allowing sh*t to seep beneath the liners and spread and ferment. Gases from the fermentation can inflate the liner like a hot-air balloon and rise in an expanding, accelerating bubble, forcing thousands of tons of feces out of the lagoon in all directions.

All of this excrement has implications outside of the arena of public health. Tietz goes on to quote the then-chairman of Smithfield, one Joseph Luter III, as saying that the company had been charged by the Environmental Protection Agency with "a very, very small percent" (seventy-four at the time, compared to 2.5 million) of what he viewed as potential charges.

In 1997, the EPA hit Smithfield with the largest Clean Water Act fine to date ($12.6 million) for dumping "illegal levels of pollutants from their slaughterhouse into the Pagan River."

Also from Tietz, on the impact of all that waste in waterways:

Hog farms in North Carolina also emit some 300 tons of nitrogen into the air every day as ammonia gas, much of which falls back to earth and deprives lakes and streams of oxygen, stimulating algal blooms and killing fish.
And on the company's pollution track record:

Smithfield is not just a virtuosic polluter; it is also a theatrical one. Its lagoons are historically prone to failure. In North Carolina alone they have spilled, in a span of four years, 2 million gallons of shit into the Cape Fear River, 1.5 million gallons into its Persimmon Branch, one million gallons into the Trent River and 200,000 gallons into Turkey Creek. In Virginia, Smithfield was fined $12.6 million in 1997 for 6,900 violations of the Clean Water Act -- the third-largest civil penalty ever levied under the act by the EPA. It amounted to .035 percent of Smithfield's annual sales.
Whether or not Smithfield is "at fault" for H1N1, what is clear is that their facilities have been impacting public and environmental health for years. Here's hoping that the powers that be, once they've managed to containe this virus, will turn their attention to that.


Laura H (964)
Friday May 1, 2009, 6:44 pm
All of the 'pig farmers' are upset that this is being called "the swine flu" and they are afraid this will hurt their 'business'!!! TOO FREAKIN' BAD!!! They have BLOOD on their is beyond time the public sees where (and HOW!!!) their 'food' comes from!!!!
Y'know what pisses me off is~over and OVER the media tells the public that "eating pork products is safe~it will NOT give you the flu" but NONE of them have EVER said ANYTHING about the SADISTIC CRUELTY that the sweet pigs endure just to become a selfish humans's DINNER.... GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Karma, WHERE are YOU?!

Raffi LidoRoiz (301)
Friday May 1, 2009, 7:06 pm
Karma may be driving this whole situation...something is afoot here...and we all know how intelligent these animals are. Thanks Laura...Blue, Bonita-everyone.

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday May 1, 2009, 7:09 pm
* Krugman: "So Bobby Jindal makes fun of 'volcano monitoring,' and soon afterwards Mt. Redoubt erupts. Susan Collins makes sure that funds for pandemic protection are stripped from the stimulus bill, and the swine quickly attack. What else did the right oppose recently? I just want enough information to take cover."

Raffi LidoRoiz (301)
Friday May 1, 2009, 8:00 pm
You name it-they oppose it! ;-)-I think the word swine speaks volumes-don't you Blue!

Amena Andersson (187)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 7:35 am
The humans dirty the name of swine.

Julie van Niekerk (230)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 11:37 am
I maybe cruel too, but I feel sorry for the pgs. I handreared two pigs that would have died, but the farmer gave Priscilla and Babe to me. Pigs are very intelligent. They are very lovable and clean creatures. It is humans that give pigs a bad name. Priscilla and Babe died of old age and were buried in peace and dignity.

Raffi LidoRoiz (301)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 11:56 am
I watched a series of extraordinary shows on pigs, rats and many other animals (I think it was on NatGeo or the Animal Channel) and what pigs can do and how they "analyze" things is stunning.

When I was married to my first husband we lived in Iowa-on his dad's farm-now I was a sheltered Palm Beach girl and I had never been on a farm except to go riding-so I was seeing pigs for the first time-it was a horrible shock to see how they lived and then I saw how brilliant they were.

There was one hog that I named Houdini because he always undid the latch and let all the others out. We found ourselves chasing them all over the farm and I was hoping that he would be spared the fate that lay ahead of him. I couldn't and it always made me sad. Someone had to honor him and the others.So I put flowers in the pig sty.They laughed at me. I couldn't care less-my husband's dad had gotten up in the middle of the night and delivered those piglets that he trucked off-it was impossible for me to comprehend divorcing yourself that much from what he did next. Their inevitable conclusion-so savage and brutal. What an abominable way for these animals to be kept.

But you know Julie-it's amazing how much" influe"nce this is having on the factory farms and the horrors that have gone on for so long.Are Houdini and his friends and many others behind this bizarre spectacle?


Monika D (104)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 1:10 pm
over produsing, over consuming, animals are rise far to quck, feed with God knows what, leaving in dirt and stress.....what aboiy coming back to basic, when farmer have time to take care about his animals and they was growing we all, even those, like me, vegeterians are in much, far to much

Leigh B (211)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 2:44 pm
These animals are overcrouded, lying in their waste, its no wonder there's an epedemic, ranchers just don't care because of the greed of money, thanks Raffi

Catherine Turley (192)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 2:53 pm
the answer to ending the excessive pollution, at the least, is right there in the article. fines of .035% don't hurt companies enough to make them change. i'd rather see less pollution, but in the meantime, we could use the money. frankly, after 6,900 violations, shouldn't there be a three strikes law?

Ellie Issaksen Blasco (14)
Saturday May 2, 2009, 8:58 pm
Eating pigs is disgusting. Absolutely. Furthermore, seeing the animal beings' faces and knowing their fates is incredibly sad alongside sickening. In 1993 I got very ill from pork kabob's. A long time ago (thank Heavens) however I was the only out of 4 of us who did get poisoned.

Mexico needs to wake up. You guys think slaughterhouses and operations are bad in THIS country. There's alot of animal eating there...that's right, don't donate to the roadside cookers- oft times the ingredients are above and beyond "puerco."

All of this lack of conscience, selfishness and pure gut lust really makes me angry. I'm so tired of all the animal killing and EATING on this Planet.

Tim Redfern (581)
Sunday May 3, 2009, 6:06 pm
Talk about over-reacting!
People think they can get the flu by
eating pork!
Ummmmm, no, not so much.
I totally agree with Laura H.
Pigs are the sweetest, most intelligent
animals, and to raise them as food is
just plain wrong!
Thanks, Raffi!

Haudeno Saunee (19)
Tuesday May 5, 2009, 1:16 am
Judging from the comments posted thus far that all recognize that pigs and all other animal species are more intelligent than the general population realizes.

Might that not also apply to avians as well?

There's an unknown story about Ivan Pavlov and his research on conditional reflexes that merits retelling here:
Everyone knows about his experiemnts using dogs and even cats to salivate on command, but the part that never made it into the western press and academia was Pavlov's satori-like "moment of enlightenment" when he suddenly looked into their eyes and really felt the pain [empathic?] of what he had inflicted on them. At that moment he understood from their level and knew he must alleviate their suffering by repairng the damages done by sewing them up, [the animals lived BTW] vowing never to do harm to another animal again. Can you imagine the shock on his students faces, as the scientist they were in awe of and held in high esteem both in Russia and elsewhere was talking scientific heresy, was acting emotional and vowing to destroy his work while telling his students that dogs have souls etc and that they should learn to respect them and all life. Then imagine as his horrified assistants realized that his actions could have a telling affect on any future research were trying to calm him down etc....

Imagine if B.F. Skinner, John Watson and all the Behaviorists had likewise had similar moments of satori, it would have had a profound effect on the way in which humans view/treat animals and other species. So much human miunderstanding of and infliction of unnecessary pain and suffereing of nonhuman species could have been avoided.

Raffi LidoRoiz (301)
Tuesday May 5, 2009, 10:20 am
Thank you so much, Haudeno-that is a wonderful comment. I never knew that about Pavlov-I think you may have redeemed him in my eyes. Can you give me a URL? Thanks again.

Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Business

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.