COVID-19

Neither the cow nor the pig: the farm grows viruses

Neither the cow nor the pig: the farm grows viruses

The largest German meat refrigerator,Tönnies, came to break the peace that Merkel had achieved in her German herd. The lady even allowed herself to give a lecture on how contagions evolve, while (almost) the whole world was falling apart due to the coronavirus.

His government, conservative, - we are not going to forget now the boot that it imposed to crush the autonomy plebiscite for Greece's debt, exactly 5 years ago, nor the role that Angela Merkel had in the tricorne of power when the European continent collapsed with debts in 2008-, launched a series of bailout programs and quasi-socialist social aid, with so many euros followed by zeros that it is impossible to give it dimension.

Compared to the 30,000 dead in France, 35,000 in Italy, 10,000 in Belgium, 29,000 in Spain, 45,000 in Great Britain, 6,100 in the Netherlands and 5,300 in Sweden, all countries with 16 to 70 million fewer inhabitants than Germany, 'la Merkel 'was left, literally, as the statesman who is going to retire from politics like a heroine.

And the party was ruined because when everything was almost dominated, in the city of Gütersloh, over 7,000 workers from the refrigerator, more than 2,000 tested positive for Covid-19, and had toquarantine half a million people. There are 5 in critical situation, admitted to intensive care.

What went wrong?

Did the German health authorities do something wrong in the context of the pandemic? With high probability the answer is no. 9,100 deaths is a very low figure, compared to any country. At the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, they had 450,000 beds in hospitals, of which 28,000 were Intensive Care, with tens of thousands of ventilators available.

What is wrong is the system: even in Germany (why not in Germany?) The living and working conditions of workers in slaughterhouses, hatcheries and meat processing plants are bad, or very bad.

Immigrants work both in that refrigerator and in many others.These usually live in cramped accommodation provided by the company. The journalistLavinia Pitu of the Deutsche Wellemanaged to interview a worker, under anonymity.

"They forced us to work up to 12 or 13 hours, instead of eight, but then the overtime pay did not appear."

"Inside the refrigerator it is very cold and humid, the conveyor belts move very fast, the hands were swollen at night".

There were state inspections but they were pre-warned, and at that time the speed of the conveyor belts was lowered to a normal rate.

“Most of us don't speak German. We were subcontracted by Romanians, or in any case our foreman was Romanian, who translated and shouted ”.

"They offered accommodation, but in an apartment there could be up to 10 or 14 people, at a rate of 200 euros each", he asserted.

What did the manager of theTönnies? That the guilty of breaking this supposedly perfect world that had solved the pandemic were the workers, the majority immigrants from Eastern Europe (romanians that in their country of origin they could earn between 285 and 495 euros per month, orBulgarians that in their country they could earn between 310 and 500 euros per month, orpoles that in their country they would not earn more than 170 to 400 euros per month). These immigrants, during the parenthesis of the pandemic, went to their places of origin ... and broughtevil. He didn't say it exactly like that, but he did, and he had to apologize in public. The leader of the Greens,Anton Hofreiter he snapped "if you really want to apologize, pay the costs involved in closing the refrigerator -and wages-, from your own pocket, not from the corporation's coffers."

Hubertus Heil, the Social Democratic Labor Minister of the Merkel government told Bild multimedia: “The exploitation of people from Central and Eastern Europe is becoming a general health risk, and the meat industry has to absolutely change“.

Everything seems to indicate that the cost of production (wages and living conditions) are low, to keep prices more or less accessible to the German public.

The virus did not start in Wuhan

However, the GRAIN group, which works on biodiversity issues, highlights good agricultural practices and supports small farmers, affirms in a magnificent material published in June 2020, which for various reasons was not disclosed, reproduced and debated (will it affect something to the Argentine-Brazilian agro-industrial complex?), that the latest research "suggest that factory farms, and not fresh markets, could be the source of Covid-19”. We are going to transcribe some lines of the document (available at www.grain.org/article/6438-nuevas-investigaciones-sugieren-que-):

In a study published on May 25 (1) by scientists from China and the United States, it was also concluded that the virus did not originate from the Huanan market. Like other recent scientific studies (2), which analyzed the initial virus samples collected in China, it was found that various types of the virus were circulating in China for a time, and that the initial transmission from animals to humans occurredprevious to the outbreak of the Huanan market. The type of virus that infected people in the Huanan market was a communicable type that most likely evolved in humans, from an initial type that jumped out from animals. How that initial jump happened is still a mystery.

This is a virus of animal origin that made a leap, perhaps from bats to humans, perhaps through… another animal, perhaps through livestock. And we still do not have data to know where and how it happened”Noted Colin Carson, a professor at Georgetown University, in an interview with LiveScience (3). "As a scientist studying zoonoses, I have not seen anything that makes me think that the [Huanan] market is a possible option.”

Studies of wild and domestic animals in China and studies of animal susceptibility to Covid-19 have not indicated any obvious candidate that may have acted as an intermediate host between bats and humans, which according to many scientists was necessarily a step. in the evolution of the virus. Pigs would be an important species to investigate. As a result of this, two studies, in which pigs (4) were subjected to doses of Sars-Cov-2, found that they did not become infected with the disease. These studies must be taken with caution, as they were not done with the initial type of disease that jumped from animals to humans. Pigs and other animal species, raised intensively in China, must continue to be investigated.

We remain convinced that it is necessary for factory farms to be considered as one of the main sources for the appearance of new and dangerous pathogens, including the coronavirus, along with deforestation (5) and our increasing invasion of the habitats of bats and other wild animals. These threats are highlighted in a recent publication of a scientific study (6), which provides a 3-year update on the emergence of new enteric coronaviruses in pigs in China (known as SeACoV). One of these, known as SADS, is mentioned in our recent report on African Swine Fever (7). The authors found that there were several outbreaks of the new SeACov virus on pig factory farms during that period and that multiple types of the virus were likely involved. They warn that the circulation of these viruses, which likely evolve through transmission between bats and pigs (and possibly rats), is a major risk for the emergence of new pandemic coronaviruses in humans.

But little attention has been paid to some other animals on this list, which more clearly meet the criteria of “high population density”, Which favors genetic mutations. Pigs would be obvious candidates for this list, for a number of reasons. On the one hand, pigs and humans have very similar immune systems, which facilitates the crossing of the virus between the two species, as happened with the Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia in 1998 (8). Just three years before the Covid-19 outbreak began, tens of thousands of pigs from four industrial farms in Qingyuan County in Guangdong, less than 100 km from where the 2003 SARS outbreak originated, died in cause of an outbreak of a lethal new strain of coronavirus (SADS) that turned out to be 98 percent identical to a coronavirus found in horseshoe bats in a nearby cave (9). Fortunately, transmission to humans did not occur, but subsequent laboratory tests showed that such transmission could have been possible (10).

These industrial farms are the ideal breeding ground (11) for new pathogens to evolve.

Hubei's factory pig farms are still reeling from the massive outbreak of African swine fever that affected the province and other parts of China just over a year ago (12), decimating the country's stocks in half. Under these conditions, it is entirely possible that the outbreak of a new coronavirus among the pigs of the province goes unnoticed. GRAIN, other organizations, and several scientists, have been warning about this situation for more than a decade: industrialization and corporate consolidation of meat production generate greater risks for the appearance of global pandemics such as Covid-19 (13 ). Governments and large meat companies completely disparage this reality. As the evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace noted, "Anyone trying to understand why viruses are becoming more dangerous must investigate the industrial model in agriculture and, more specifically, in livestock production" (14).

The Virus Virus

In order not to lower adrenaline (and the panic and / or boredom that the world population already has), a study by the China Agricultural University, led by the scientistLiu Jinhua set off a future alarm. Future that in these times accelerates at the speed of light. There is a new strain of swine flu, with the potential to infect humans.

This is a far-reaching study: 30,000 samples were taken from the respiratory tracts of pigs from 10 different provinces of China, in the period from 2011 to 2018. And in this way they found 179 different swine flu viruses. One of them is the G4.

As explained (the review of thepaper scientist made it the magazine of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (in the originalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America -PNAS), “is a unique combination of three lineages, including the H1N1 strain, which is precisely responsible for the 2009 bird flu pandemic, which mutated from pigs to humans"... and at this point many people heard it said that against this flu, humans have no immunity.

HeChinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention He was categorical: work would have to start on a vaccine against the G4 virus, both for pigs and for humans. This appearance, published on Monday June 29 in various media, forces a rereading of the document published by GRAIN, which focuses the debate on the way in which food is produced industrially.

Coronavirus in refrigerators in Argentina

TheFederation of Argentine Regional Refrigerating Industries (FIFRA) groups some 350 meat processing plants and slaughterhouses in Santa Fe, Córdoba and Entre Ríos. These three provinces, in addition to Buenos Aires and other satellite poles such as Salta, concentrate most of the slaughter and meat supply for the domestic market and for export.

FIFRA head, Daniel Urcía, stated that “Since before March 20, when having knowledge of what was happening in China, with whom there is fluid contact because they are buyers of Argentine meat, it was decided to work on a training with infectologists from the National University of Córdoba, and establish sanitary protocols to be implemented in all plants. There were some problems during the pandemic, but the vast majority have not had any problems and are operational

According to Urcía, early they adopted the temperature measurement upon entry, the restriction of access to the property and the plant, and “accept Resolution No. 346 of SENASA by which if faced with a suspected case or a confirmed contagion, work is suspended and you cannot return until it is defined by SENASA

Among the most widely publicized cases are Frigorífico Bermejo de Salta, Santa Giulia in the town of Alejandro Korn in the Buenos Aires suburbs, El Friar in Nelson, Santa Fe province, El Federal de Quilmes (where a worker died on 22 April), the Maneca, in the town of Tigre, in which there were two cases that forced the temporary closure of the firm, and the Subpga, in Berazategui.

Of all of them, the two most notorious cases areSanta Giulia, in which this July 1, the workers will cut the route demanding effective compliance with sanitary measures, and theBlack Bamboo, from the city of Hughes, in the south of the province of Santa Fe.

On the latter, Daniel Urcía commented “Two cases were confirmed in that meat processing plant, which works hard on exports, on June 19. SENASA disabled the activity, and on the 25th they resumed, although 30 employees are still in quarantine. The contagion came from a carrier that had traveled to Buenos Aires. Of the 600 employees, 500 are in their jobs, and the health measures proposed by the Federation in March are being followed”.

Scientific citations and references cited:

(1) https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.25.20027953v1.full.pdf

(2) https://rega.kuleuven.be/if/pdf_corona

(3) https://rega.kuleuven.be/if/pdf_corona

(4) https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/07/science.abb7015

(5) https://monthlyreview.org/2020/05/01/covid-19-and-circuits-of-capital/

(6) https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6494/1016

(7) https://www.grain.org/es/article/6429-peste-porcina-africana-un-futuro-cultivado-en-granjas-industriales-una-pandemia-a-la-vez

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114486/

(9) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-chinas-bat-woman-hunted-down-viruses-from-sars-to-the-new-coronavirus1/

(10) https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.01448-19

(11) https://www.grain.org/en/article/6418-building-a-factory-farmed-future-one-pandemic-at-a-time

(12) https://www.grain.org/en/article/6418-building-a-factory-farmed-future-one-pandemic-at-a-time

(13) https://grain.org/e/614

(14) https://climateandcapitalism.com/2020/03/11/capitalist-agriculture-and-covid-19-a-deadly-combination/

By Darío Bursztyn


Video: Farm Monitor -May 16, 2020 (August 2021).