Photo: Cartoon doing the rounds on the emails - plus below happy outdoor pigs?
Green party leader Caroline Lucas MEP called early on for governments to investigate the causes of swine flu - including the issue of farming practices - as well as addressing the current crisis. However there seems to be a reluctance to do that. Here is my letter to the press this week:
Gordon Brown claims "Britain is among the best prepared countries in the world," in terms of the swine flu pandemic. However there is still no serious plan to examine the causes of these animal-based epidemics that can jump the species barrier to humans.
There is growing evidence that intensive, industrialised farming could be playing a role. The first hybrid combination of swine, avian and human viruses was found in an industrial pig farm in 1998 in North Carolina. Indeed in the US pigs and poultry are raised in highly intensive conditions often in adjacent sheds managed by the same staff. Similarly in Mexico intensive pig farming has grown substantially in recent years, with some vast operations raising tens of thousands of pigs at a time.
Of course Ministers need to deal with the consequences of current swine flu outbreaks. However it is now more urgent than ever that the Government sets up a commission of inquiry into the causes: a call first made by the Green Party after the avian flu outbreaks in 2006.
The good news this week is that, like with avian flu, the dangers of swine flu may well have been exaggerated. But unless we urgently address the causes of these outbreaks, we might not be so lucky a third time.Yours Sincerely, Philip Booth
See Guardian comment here and a Green party health spokesperson blog here. See The Ecologist article here and their film 'Sick as a Pig' here.
Viva! have long campaigned against the abuse of farmed animals in factory farming. They have joined Greens in calling for an urgent enquiry into intensive farming in Britain and its effect on human health. Contact Alan Johnson (Secretary of State for Health): Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Department of Health, Richmond House, 79Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS
Plus online petition from Avaaz who write: Big agrobusiness will try to obstruct and scuttle any attempts at reform, so we need a massive outcry that health authorities can't ignore. Sign the petition below for investigation and regulation of factory farms and tell your friends and family and we will deliver it to the UN agencies. If we reach 200,000 signatures we will deliver it to the WHO in Geneva with a herd of cardboard pigs. For every 1000 petition signatures we will add a pig to the herd: http://www.avaaz.org/en/swine_flu_pandemic