How Factory Farms Make You Sick

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Factory farms makes you sick.

Let us count the ways.

Just last week, more than half a billion eggs recalled.

Why?

Salmonella poisoning.

More than 1,300 people sick.

Just last week, a recall of more than 380,000 pounds of deli meat products distributed nationwide to Wal-Mart stores.

Why?

Possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

The bacteria can cause listeriosis – a rare but potentially deadly disease.

Move over Animal Farm.

Here comes Animal Factory.

And the animal factories are dominating the agricultural landscape.

Making us sick and poisoning the environment.

The Obama administration, which ran on a platform to confront factory farming, has done little to confront the problem.

“They don’t have the stomach to take on the factory farms,” David Kirby, author of the book Animal Factory (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), told Corporate Crime Reporter last week. “They are gun shy. I’m disappointed.”

While the Justice Department and the Department of Agriculture are holding hearings on concentration in agribusiness, Kirby see the exercise as a glorified listening tour.

He doesn’t anticipate federal intervention to prevent a disaster.

But he says what needs to be done is clear – move from factory farms to family farms.

How?

Ban non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animals.

Bust up the processing cartels.

“There are so few processing plants now and they are so centralized and big they want to process only factory farm animals,” Kirby says.

Cut the billions in subsidies to agribusiness.

“And by the way, why aren’t the tea partiers out there screaming about the billions of dollars we give away every year to these massive farms?” Kirby asks.

“And then take some of those subsidies and give them to small independent farmers who can really use it to compete.”

He says that the Obama administration ran on a platform to do some of these things.

But it refuses to take on big agribusiness.

Kirby says it will take a disaster to change the system.

“You can pass all the laws you want, organize all the boycotts,” Kirby said. “But ultimately when you cram thousands of animals into a single confined space without access to fresh air, outdoor sunlight, pasture, natural animal behaviors – you are asking for problems in the form of diseases that attack people.”

“Mother nature will have the last word. Mad cow disease was a warning. Swine flu was a warning. MRSA was a warning. The egg recall was a warning.”

“But we haven’t hit the big one yet.”

“Things are changing. Consumers are waking up.”

“I understand that there are lines around the block at farmers markets where eggs sell out by noon.”

“Demand for sustainably grown eggs right now is huge. That will make companies sit up and take notice.”

“Things are changing. But for a massive shift away from factory farming, it will probably take some new super-virus combining the killer bird flu and some killer swine flu.”

“And that could happen. These chicken farms in Iowa are just down the road from the hog farms.”

“And birds and rodents and insects are moving in and out of these places.”

That disaster would force public action. But what about preventable public action by the Obama administration.

“It won’t be enough to have a serious impact on the structure of the factory farms,” Kirby says. “We are awash in apathy in this country.”

[For a complete transcript of the Interview with David Kirby see 24 Corporate Crime Reporter 33(10), August 30, 2010, print edition only.]

RUSSELL MOKHIBER is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future