Stolen from El Universal, picture of pigs at Granjas Carroll.
From El Universal today, my translation.
Transnational pig production under suspicion
By Carlos Macías Richard
Where did the swine flue come from? It's still not certain, but data is beginning to flow. One clue leads to Perote, Veracruz.
The current epiemic which has changed the lives of all the inhabitants of the country will certainly bring together many stories and actors, many personal and family dramas which emerged suddenly and incomprehensibly. However, there are too many threads with which to begin to reconstruct calmly (for the purposes of informing society) the origin and evolution of the epidemic. The following will be perhaps a small part of the puzzle which we are beginning to put together.
Smithfield is the most important global company in the processing of food products derived from pork. In its prime, it was the first company of its kind to obtain environmental certification ISO 14001, in its its operations as pork producers and processors. The company's motto is designed to create confidence: Good Food Responsibly.
Smithfield had its beginnings in 1936 when Joseph Luter built a small ham and bacon packaging plant in Smithfield, Virginia. But its current global manifestation dates from 1999 when it acquired its competitor, Carroll's Foods (in order to create Smithfield Foods) and became the rival of the no less omnipresent company Tyson's.
The global company Smithfield is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SFD.. It also appears on NASDAQ .Its stock fell Monday a little more than ten percent in one day when Tyson also fell nine percent. Remember that it is the practice of investors to buy stock based on rumor and sell based on news.
Smithfield, now owner of Carroll Foods, is the co-owner of granja Carroll, in the valley of Perote. It's been mentioned a lot that granja Carroll owns the most technologically advanced facilities in the country for raising pork. The Mexican associates of Smithfield at Granjas Carraoll are not minor businesses either. They are the stockholders of Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico, one of the major producers and exporters of Mexican coffee (Veracruz and Chiapas).
Granja Carroll has been continuously challenged by the inhabitants of the adjoining area since at least 2007 because of its inadequate management of wastes. The most recent expansion of processing operationswas announced in Veracruz in December, 2007. In October 2008 in order to honor its environmental commitment, Granja Carroll donated to the governor of the state 500,000 pesos to support the campaign called Faithful to the Forests [FidelidadForestal] (in Veracruz, ...the program was commonly called Fidel. [Fidel is the name of the governor]. In January 2008, the governor inaugurated the meat processor and incinerator at Granjas Carroll.
The acute respiratory problems of many inhabitants of the valley of Perote began during the second part of March 2009. It appears to us a good idea to raise the fundamental questions we all have.
1. The health authorities of Veracruz acted with unaccustomed speed to analyse the results of the condition found among the population (in the town of Las Glorias) at the end of March. Even more, those same authorities acted with incredible speed to alleviate and eliminate the illness in the population.
T2. The expert James Wilson (consultant for the US business Veratec which deals with with biotechnological alerts) appeared also, at an early date....(This doesn't have to do with just any consultant; to understand the importance of Wilson, you should know that he is one of the scientists accustomed to appear before the committee on internal security of the US Congress.) Wilson submitted the lab results on the infectious agent in the population [in Las Glorias] around the 30th of March. A short time after this investigation in Mexico and in the US, Veratec alerted the World Health Organizaton, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US and the international Red Cross about the outbreak (Veratect did not say whether it alerted the government of Mexico). Some unsettling questions are: Did Veratec make the government of Veracruz or the national government of Mexico aware of the relevance of this finding? If not, why not? Perhaps the analysis of Veratec and Wilson was ordered and sent only to granja Carroll and not to the government of Veracruz? Perhaps the results were sought and used mainly by the govrnment, and also for the attention and treatment of the sick?
3. Since from December, 2005 to January, 2009, at least twelve isolated cases of swine flu had appeared in the US according to the CDC, there are a variety of public health documents on line which warn that the subtype A of H1N1 (swine flu) is notably only sensitive to treatment with sanamivir or oseltamivir and not with the traditional medicines used with that subtype of influenza A (amantadine and rimantadince).
4. Very probably the owners and global directors of Smithfield, shareholders of granja Carroll, also know the latent public health risk, so... they always have at hand, in the same offices of the Veracruz farm, large quantities of boxes of ten capsules of the miraculous oseltamivir (that is to say, Tamiflú....specifically to provide individual doses of five days every twelve hours). Owing to the same medical experience treating patients in the US, the few patients who appeared in Texas and California at the end of March and beginning of April of this year were treated promptly and recovered.
5. The population of Las Glorias got sick....and got better at the beginning of April.. The 2nd of April (and making use of some lab results Wilson submitted?) the secretary of health of Veracruz, Manuel Lila de Arce said: "It is not an epidemic, it is not influenza, the farms were fumigated because while we don't have problems with rodents and insects now, we treat to avoid any proliferation of another illness which strictly speaking is not this one" (which?) However, he agreed that they ought to establish and maintain for some days a public health fence [I think his means quarantine]. (Perhaps this was sufficient?) The quarantine took place owing to the fact that "about 30 percent of the roughly 2500 inhabitants" had symptoms of respiratory infections."
6. The state government has indicated that since April 23, among the sick in Las Glorias only one five year old child tested positive for swine flu and that he recuperated withouth problems. Yet this past weekend, the governor visited the child at his house to show publically that there was no evidence of swine flu in the state. The 26th of April, Smithfield appeared pressured to put on its global web page that "none of the workers or the animals of granja Carroll had any illness associated with swine flu."
The questions are timely. What medicine did the government give to the child who had swine flu, and what medicine did it give to the rest of the people of Las Glorias presenting respiratory symptoms (resfriado)? Who recommended to the state government to use this medicine (a medicine so effective, and which was not used with patients with similar symptoms in Oaxaca, Mexico City and San Luis Potois?) What medicine is this giant, jealous global pig production business accustomed to keep on hand in its medicine cabinet and to offer and administer to its employees in case of emergency?
The answer, probably, is part of a skein of explanations with many threads which will ....which will arrive [as news] at Nasdaq.
Carlos Macías Richard is a full time researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)