Deaths here and in Mexico add to mounting worries about swine flu virus. The outbreak also raises many questions about the sustainability of food production on the corporate model. The new virus strain carries genetic elements from human, swine and avian flu varieties and was first reported in a resident of a village, La Gloria, in Veracruz, Mexico.
La Gloria is next to a major pig-raising and pork production operation that is half owned by the giant agribusiness Smithfield, based inVirginia. La Gloria residents have been protesting unsanitary conditions caused by the way the operation keeps its pigs and disposes of fecal waste. The smells are unbearable, residents say, and the vast amounts of pig excrement kept in open, inadequately lined pits create massive swarms of flies that bedevil the inhabitants and cause health problems.
In Virginia and North Carolina, where Smithfield has had major operations, and other areas where other corporations have large pig farms, complaints about odor and public health dangers arise time and again. Complaints by local residents and environmentalists coincide with serious