The Swine Flu, Smithfield Farms, and NAFTA

Dear Colleagues:

According to this article, the source of the current outbreak of swine flu is Carroll Ranches, a hog farm in Mexico that kills 800,000 hogs yearly. Carroll Ranches was opened by Smithfield Farms in 1994, the year that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. The article claims that Carroll Ranches does not have a sewage treatment plant and that the imminent pandemic is the result of “free trade” agreements that allow U.S. corporations to escape domestic environmental laws by relocating operations to countries that do not have environmental regulations or where any regulations that do exist are not enforced.

The article concludes:

The real name of this infirmity is “The NAFTA Flu,” the first of what may well emerge as many new illnesses to emerge internationally as the direct result of “free trade” agreements that allow companies like Smithfield Farms to escape health, safety and environmental laws.

Reactionary commentators are claiming that the cause of the swine flu is illegal immigration. But if the report about Carroll Ranches is correct, the problem is not that Mexicans (legal or otherwise) are infecting innocent Americans, but that an American corporation went into Mexico and created the conditions that facilitated the outbreak.

The pork lobby does not want the current virus to be called “swine flu” because it suggests that eating pork is unsafe.

But the very clear truth is that, in addition to being morally unjustified, animal agriculture is very unsafe.

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione

ADDED MAY 4, 2009:

More on the Smithfield/swine flu connection: 1, 2, 3.