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Swine Flu Ad Urges Government to Shut Down 'Flu Farms'

In May, the World Health Organization announced that it will be several months before a swine flu vaccine is produced. Yet as the swine flu alert hovers at phase 5, just below pandemic level, the likely source of the epidemic—pig farms—continues to put people’s lives in danger. So PCRM is asking the government and pork producers for solutions. 

pigs in hog farmPCRM placed a digital billboard in the Washington, D.C., Metro subway system that warned commuters that “1 in 3 pigs harbors flu viruses” and urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to shut down intensive hog farms to reduce swine flu risk.

Hog producers have tried to distance themselves from culpability for the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus. But overcrowded pig farms offer a breeding ground for new forms of influenza and other pathogens, according to a report last year from the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which recommended the phase out of intensive confinement on farms. One-third to one-half of pigs on modern farms have antibody evidence of influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There would be no swine flu pandemics without pig farms,” says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “These huge pig facilities are unsanitary, inhumane, and extremely dangerous to human health. It’s time to shut these flu farms down.”

In a letter to Vilsack, Dr. Barnard points out that leading health experts have expressed concerns about factory farming. Five years ago, the American Public Health Association called for a moratorium on new factory farms because these facilities pose grave public health risks.

The average American now consumes more than 200 pounds of meat a year, including a significant amount of pork. A collective shift away from meaty diets could help eliminate the farms that breed infectious disease. Meatless meals would also dramatically decrease obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Learn more about foodborne illness at

Neal Barnard, M.D
Neal Barnard, M.D

PCRM Online, June 2009

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