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The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms on Humans and the Environment

Related Articles and Information: Visit OCA's Food Safety Resource Center

Guest: David Kirby, author of the book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms on Humans and the Environment.
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AMY GOODMAN: As we talk about the largest egg recall in US history, at this point half a billion eggs, our guest is David Kirby. His book is Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms on Humans and the Environment.

Actually, David, we keep saying half a billion eggs have been pulled off the shelves. How do we know they're pulled off the shelves?

DAVID KIRBY: Apparently they haven't all been pulled off the shelves, because they're still warning people to check the numbers when they get the eggs home from the market. This is a voluntary recall, which just illustrates the point that I was making before. We need more regulations, and we need enforcement of the regulations. These companies are sel- policing, and they're operating on the honor system. And consumers are obviously paying the price. Salmonella can make you very, very sick.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, we're talking about more than thirty labels. You don't see DeCoster. You know, you don't-it's not Hillandale. It's not these-

DAVID KIRBY: These are market-usually under supermarket brand labels. A lot of these were sold to restaurants and food service operations, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about the two factory farms in Iowa, as an example, what they look like in the community.

DAVID KIRBY: These things, when you drive down the highway in Iowa, for example, you see them one after the other after the other. They're often interspersed, poultry factory next to a hog factory, which of course increases the chance for interspecies mingling of influenza virus. If we thought swine flu was bad, we may get an avian swine flu hybrid from the close proximity of these factories. From the outside, they look fairly innocuous. You've probably seen them on TV, this row after row of those tall green buildings. It's once you go inside that the horrors really become apparent.

These chickens are kept in tiny little cages stacked one on top of the other, crammed in by the hundreds of thousands-same with pigs, oftentimes same with dairy cattle, crammed in by the hundreds into small confinements where the air is foul. They have to pump clean air at one end, and at the other end they push out all of the odors and gases and bacteria and ammonia and viruses and even antibiotics out into the atmosphere. These are not clean or sustainable operations. And without proper regulations, these kinds of diseases will keep coming. 

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