Welfare charity seizes "swine flu" opportunity

An animal welfare group is using the H1N1 outbreak to renew attacks on intensive farming, claiming the virus is the result of “farming pigs in unnatural and inhumane conditions”.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has released a report, which links the current H1N1 virus to the swine viruses that have circulated in pig herds since the 1990s.

The report analyses scientific opinions on the risk that intensive farming pose to human health and points out that scientists have repeatedly warned of the potential for lethal pathogens to mutate and spread rapidly under intensive farming conditions.

Philip Lymbery, chief executive of the charity, said: “This pandemic is a global wake-up call. The scientific and public health communities have known for years that the cramped and squalid conditions on factory farms can present a significant danger to human health.

"Intensive farming is cruel and unnatural. These appalling industrial facilities are at odds with the most fundamental principles of animal health and welfare – and could potentially be a threat to the welfare of the consumer.”

The pig industry has repeatedly denied links between the H1N1 virus and pigs, pointing out that the label "swine flu" is misleading and incorrect. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has mobilised a team of experts to confirm that the new flu variation has no direct link to pigs.

To date, only one pig herd in Canada has been found to have the disease, and it its believed that the animals contracted it from an infected carpenter who worked on the premises shortly after a trip to Mexico.

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