Swine flu: we must address causes urgently, says Green Party leader

28 April 2009

Dr Caroline Lucas MEP today called on governments to investigate the causes of swine flu - including the issue of farming practices - as well as addressing the current crisis.

Dr Lucas said: "While attention is understandably focused on how to deal with the consequences of the current swine flu epidemic, it is vital that governments put serious resources into examining its causes as well. We were lucky that the avian flu outbreaks didn't turn into deadly pandemics - and we fervently hope that the current swine flu outbreak won't turn into one. But unless we urgently seek to address the causes of these outbreaks, we might not be lucky a third time.

She drew attention to the growing evidence of the link between industrialised animal farming and the spread of disease: "This is not the first time a triple hybrid combination of swine, avian and human viruses has been uncovered. The first was found in an industrial pig farm in 1998 in North Carolina, a state which boasts the densest pig population in North America. Some experts blamed the emergence on intensive farming practices in the US, where pigs and poultry are raised in extremely cramped conditions, often in adjacent sheds, and tended to by the same staff. In Mexico, too, intensive pig farming has grown substantially in recent years, with some giant operations raising tens of thousands of pigs at a time."

"As evidence mounts of the links between the increasing intensification of pig and poultry production, and the spread of these animal-based epidemics that can be lethal to humans, it is even more urgent that ministers set up the thoroughgoing commission of inquiry which the Green Party first called for after the avian flu outbreaks a few years ago."

Caroline Lucas's own Guardian comment piece regarding swine flu can be read at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/28/swine-flu-intensive-farming-caroline-lucas.

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