New pig megafactories – indoor, caged and intensive

“As the meat industry is expanding, the public becomes more engaged. In UK the erection of a new mass pig factory is about to be blocked as a result of effective campaigning.”

Factory farming is not over yet; it is omnipresent, backed with more advanced technologies and judiciary power to silence any dissenting voices. A fresh example is the case of Midland Pig Producers’ (MPP) application for a new pig factory in Foston, Derbyshire, UK with 20000 piglets and 2500 sows’ capacity. At the same time, the public seems to be more informed and reactive to such operations.

In such a discussion we need to first highlight the following facts: The pigs are never going to see the light of the day, they are not going to be able to move, and they are going to be fed and injected drugs to reach the desired weight as fast as possible to be slaughtered and sold. These factory pigs are going to spend all their short life in metal crates, and sows will give birth on bare concrete floors. Their only purpose to life will be to be eaten; as dictated by industry and consumer demand. Moreover, animal feeds in such factories are mostly imported from plantations in countries like Brazil which are installed on cut rainforest. The enormous amounts of manure produced by these animals are going to further charge the air with greenhouse gases and change the climate. Finally, those who (over-)consume meat from such factories are going to be exposed to higher risk to heart attack, obesity etc., to which animal fats greatly contribute. Putting all the facts together, the story becomes quite bizarre, irrational and obscure but paradoxically it is the accepted norm in today’s world.

'Not in my banger' campaign logo

The MPP application was objected by Soil Association (SA), which is the leading organization for organic agriculture in UK. The later was urged by MPP to withdraw the objection as it is ‘defamatory’. A critical fact is that while MPP is the largest pig company in England with 100000 pigs production per year [1], Soil Association is a charity dependent solely on donations and individual support [2]. It is another ‘David vs. Goliath’ battle between the wealthy corporations and people with resource-deficits (check: Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser featured in ‘The future of Food’ documentary, McDonalds lawsuit against Helen Steel and David Morris documented in the McLibel documentary etc.). With a successful campaign, named ‘Not in my Banger’, SA managed to challenge the legal giants and now it is backed up by more objections, this time by the Health Protection Agency and the South Derbyshire County Council. SA brought 13000 signatures to the council which supported the decision to oppose the pig industry.

The main concern in the Foston case is the health risk associated with massively-packed swine factories in terms of elevated disease generated by multi-resistant microorganisms. The recent outbreaks of swine flu are still fresh in mind, not to forget the foot and mouth disease. It is a treadmill of developing new drugs that are eventually broken down by new resistances of the microorganisms; you ‘have to’ be continuously producing new antibiotics. Big farm – big pharma coalition and the money keeps flowing! Another major concern is groundwater pollution from the waste of the piggery [3] as well as animal welfare.

The final decision is not reached though, so you can still submit your objection to the erection of this pig factory here.  A conscious society would not permit such scandalous operations; it is up to us to get informed and stand up for our rights to a healthy planet. The tide is turning.

[1] MPP website visited on 01/12/2011 http://www.mppfoston.com/

[2} Soil Association website visited on 01/12/2011 http://www.soilassociation.org/aboutus/ourhistory

[3] Derbyshire County Council’s Objection of the environmental statement of the planning Application. 6 May 2011.

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