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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Swine Flu and Agribusiness of Meat

In the midst of the stir and alarm caused by the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, it appears that the pandemic's place of origin has been forgotten: a Mexican community located near pig farms owned by the Granjas Carroll corporation.

"For any observer with common sense it is very clear that the origin of this flu virus, the Swine Flu Virus, was produced in an industrial feedlot owned by Granjas Carroll of Mexico, property of Smithfield, the largest multinational pig farming business in the world and an American firm that relocated after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico," says Carlos Vicente, from the non-governmental organization GRAIN.

The establishment of industrial-scale animal farms in Mexico has been facilitated not only by NAFTA but also by the introduction of genetically modified corn from the United States, says Silvia Ribeiro, from the ETC Group. She explains that the corn that Mexico imports from the United States is used primarily to feed animals locked in gigantic feedlots—cattle, pigs, and poultry—which belong to a small number of transnational agribusinesses, including Smithfield as well as Tyson, Cargill, and Pilgrim's Pride.

Ribeiro advises that "if poultry, pork, or beef production was not so centralized, feed crops and animal feeds would be, like they were before, more diverse and based much more on local production (that could also raise animals without genetic modifications), generating work and food for many more families, and also avoiding the importation of genetically modified corn and the risks that this brings ...

"Nor would the devastating contamination of the environment and the generation of epidemics created by these large industries exist—owing to the confinement and the absurd number of animals (Granjas Carroll processes around a million pigs each year), creating millions of tons of excrement that is released without processing into the ground and water, which also contains hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides administered to the poor animals in order to survive in terrible conditions."


Network for a Latin America Free of Genetically Modified Organisms, Bulletin #261, "La Gripe Porcina, Una Enfermedad Ligada a Negocios Transnacionales" (Swine Flu, a Disease Linked to Transnational Business).

Ribeiro, Silvia, "Mexico: Cerdos, Maiz y Resistencia" (Mexico: Pigs, Corn, and Resistance).

For more information:


Translated for the Americas Program by Erin Jonasson.

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero is an independent environmental journalist and analyst for the Americas Program of the CIP (, a fellow at the Oakland Institute and senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, as well as the founder and director of the Biodiversity Project of Puerto Rico ( His bilingual webpage ( is dedicated to global work on the environment and development.

Translated for the Americas Program by Erin Jonasson.