Skip to content

NAFTA nations vow to fight pork import restrictions

Reuters reports that, “The United States, Canada and Mexico vowed on Thursday to fight what they called unjustified bans on pork products in the wake of a H1N1 flu outbreak that started in Mexico.”
“A number of nations – most notably Russia and China – have imposed widespread import restrictions on pork and pork products from major U.S. and Canadian agricultural states and provinces.”

“In a joint statement, the three NAFTA nations called for an end to ‘unscientific bans on pork imports’ over the outbreak of the disease, also known as swine flu.”

The statement says, “We urge our trading partners to remove these restrictions on our products immediately. We will continue to follow this situation closely, and will take any steps to prevent the enforcement of unjustified measures against our exports, as appropriate…These unjustified restrictions will likely result in serious trade disruptions without cause and result in significant economic damage.”

As I have noted previously in a campaign blog, University of Minnesota professor and author Robert Wallace calls the swine flu “NAFTA flu.”

On the US-based program Democracy Now!., Wallace says the problem with calling it swine flu is that it “puts the onus on the swine as being the cause for why this kind of influenza has come about, and it’s just that is simply not the case. They are not in a position to organize themselves into what are now cities of pigs that. stretch around the world.”

He continues, “After the World War II, (small) independent farming operations were-many of them were basically put under one roof and increasingly put under the control of particular corporations-Holly Farms, Tyson, Perdue. And the geography of the poultry and pork change. So, while previously pork and poultry were grown across the country, it was now grown, or they’re now raised within only a few southeastern states here in the United States. After the livestock revolution, poultry and pigs were now being grown and. raised in much larger populations, so we go from seventy poultry now up to populations of 30,000 at a time. So we have cities of pigs and poultry.”

He then says, “And, of course, NAFTA is our local version of (IMF structural adjustment programs that further promoted this concentration). The North American Free Trade Agreement has had a subsequent effect on how poultry and pigs are raised in Mexico. The small farmers had to either bulk up, in terms of acquiring the farms around them, acquiring the pigs around them, or had to sell out to agribusinesses that were coming in. So the Smithfield subsidiary that is now being accused of being the possible plant of origin for this H1N1 (flu) is a subsidiary of an outside corporation.”

On May 1, Linda Diebel wrote in the Toronto Star that, “Sewage-filled lagoons at a pig farm in eastern Mexico – a. product of the North American free trade deal – are suspected of creating ground zero conditions for swine flu in this country. Environmentalists argue lax regulations in the factory farming that boomed in Mexico right after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the U.S. are making people sick – and not just with swine flu. ‘You might call this the `NAFTA flu,” said Rick Arnold, co-ordinator of Common Frontiers, a Canadian coalition focusing on Latin America and issues of economic integration.”

Today’s Reuters news article is at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1572728

The campaign blog on the NAFTA flu is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=428