Globalization: A Threat to Animals & The Environment
Free Trade Agreements
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Greedy Corporations Responsible for So-Called 'Swine Flu'
first in Mexico in mid March '09, the virus, H1N1, spread to hundreds
of cases within days, but was not discovered until early April. By
late April, 152 deaths had been connected to the disease. The World
Health Organization has declared that as many as 23,000 people may
have been infected in Mexico, and H1N1 has spread to the U.S. and
beyond, to at least 35 other countries. The far-and-wide transmission
of the disease has alarmed the world, with the U.S. even declaring a
state of emergency concerning the outbreak. In the panic, countries
have mandated the slaughter of thousands of pigs, blamed for the
incubation of the disease. Indeed, the new, lethal strain of
so-called 'Swine Flu' apparently developed in hog farms, where
unsanitary conditions and copious anti-bodies breed tough, resistant,
highly infectious diseases.
Also known as
'NAFTA flu', the 'Swine Flu' can be traced to a Smithfield factory
farm located in Mexico. Smithfield employs 'factory farm' methods of
pig breeding, where the sows are contained in 'gestation crates'
barely as big as their bodies while they wait in their own urine and
feces to have piglets. Hogs spend their whole lives side-by-side in
similar, individual cages too small to turn around in, and are rarely
tended to or cleaned. Smithfield has a particularly bad reputation
for irresponsible behavior and deplorable conditions in their factory
farms, and were sued millions of dollars for dumping tons of pig
feces into the Chesapeake Bay. To avoid the sting of further
environmental penalties, they moved their operations to Mexico, where
the just-created North America Fair Trade Coalition (NAFTA) ensured
the protection of corporate rights over the environment.
probably under these conditions, where disease spreads down the isles
of festering pigs, growing resistant to antibiotics along the way,
and eventually mutating into so-called 'super-bugs' like H1N1. NAFTA
style Free Trade Agreements lower sanitary and phytosanitary
standards, calling food and health safety regulations 'barriers to
trade.' According to Free Trade, it is wrong to protect people from
outbreaks if it cuts into the profits of big corporations. Meanwhile,
intellectual property rights written into the agreements make
healthcare more expensive by strengthening patents on medicines,
making the chance of untreated outbreaks even higher.
Free Trade Agreements are being pushed in front of Congress this
year. The Panama Free Trade Agreement, which will deny Panama the
right to protect its poultry industry from avian flu, is going before
the Senate Finance Committee perhaps as early as late May. If the
Panama FTA passes, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement will likely
appear before Congress later this year. Both of these agreements will
have the same repercussions of NAFTA, making the global health
situation much worse for everyone.