Your daily corporate swine flu update

The more we know about what's going on at ground zero of the flu outbreak, the less we know.

Published April 30, 2009 6:44PM (EDT)

The speculation that there might be a link between corporate hog farming and the swine flu that I linked to on Wednesday "sparked a vigorous debate on the Society for Environmental Journalists listserv," reports Grist.

Grist ended up publishing one full-length reaction piece from Merritt Clifton, the editor of Animal People, described in Clifton's bio as "the leading independent newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide."

Clifton's piece starts with a bang:

Thirty years ago this month I knelt beside the Yamaska River in southern Quebec with a test kit --  downstream from several of the then-largest, factory-type pig farms in North America (which happened to lie upstream from the water intakes for the cities of Farnham and St. Hyacinthe) -- and found that the Yamaska literally contained more extraneous chemicals from pig excrement than H2O.

But once having established that his anti-corporate-animal-husbandry credentials are second to none, he goes on to offer some sage perspective cautioning against jumping to conclusions on the link between corporate hog farming and the current flu outbreak in this particular. He provides a good bit of new detail that I haven't seen in the mainstream press. It's well worth reading.

Also worth reading: My colleague Katharine Mieszkowski's article on how little scientists really know about the swine flu.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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