According to the Wall Street Journal
Agricultural groups, worried that the swine flu outbreak is scaring consumers away from eating pork, are successfully prodding the federal government to refer to the virus by its scientific name: H1N1.
The Agriculture Department, which used the term “swine influenza” as recently as Monday, clung to the anonymous term “H1N1 flu” in a statement Tuesday touting the safeness of U.S. pork.
In a briefing Tuesday, Richard Besser, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, acknowledged that the agency’s use of the swine flu label was fueling the misconception that people could catch the new respiratory disease from food. “That’s not helpful to pork producers. That’s not helpful to people who eat pork,” Dr. Besser said. “And so we’re discussing: is there a better way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate action on peoples’ part?”
This, of course, misses the point. The article continues:
Still, many scientists say the CDC is well within its rights to describe the disease as swine flu even though it seems to have mutated into a unique human virus. Flu viruses tend to be named after the first species in which they are discovered, and H1N1 was discovered in pigs decades ago.
The institution of animal agriculture is responsible for many and perhaps most of the pandemics that we have had. The H1N1 virus had its origin in domesticated pigs. That is why it is called the “swine flu.”
So the bottom line is clear: however you look at it, eating animal products is dangerous for humans.
Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione