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Don't blame factory farming for pandemics

By Vivienne Parry   June 2009

Pig farming practices have been blamed for the swine flu outbreak, but the facts tell a different story

The website of the World Health Organisation refers calmly to something called influenza A(H1N1). But the world’s media saw the name swine flu, and perhaps not surprisingly homed in on an intensive pig-rearing facility in Mexico as the outbreak’s source—wrongly, as it turned out. Underneath this reaction lay a feeling that industrial agriculture makes modern pandemics more likely—even though there is almost no evidence for this at all.

The British consumer is usually ambivalent about animal welfare, condemning battery chickens but buying…

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