Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What is going on in Mexico?

I've been silent here for a while, but as our travels in Greece wind down and my thoughts drift back to Mexico I have a few things to highlight...

Mexiphobia is really on the rise this year. I arrived in Greece just as the Swine Flu media frenzy exploded, and, with the amount of travelling I had just done, I have to admit that I felt a little unsettled about my potential exposure. However, as the brouhaha developed I became increasingly more and more annoyed. Basil did a little research and revealed that half a million people die every year because of the regular seasonal flu. Five million per year are hospitalized for severe symptoms. As the World Health Organization escalated the H1N1 virus to Pandemic level, tourism in Mexico plummeted yet the death rate for those catching this flu doesn't even come close to normal seasonal flu levels. The global death toll currently hovers around 300. At least the overzealous US fascination with the habits of Mexico's drug cartels has lost some of its media shimmer. I refer you to The Truth About Mexico as a good resource addressing the Mexiphobia that is running rampant in the USA and Canada.

Thanks to Shelly for forwarding this video about Swine Flu. This just made me grin and gave me hope for humanity.

And last, but not least I'd like to just put forward a little 'food for thought'...

Maybe, just maybe H1N1 is a call to seriously pay attention to how our food is being produced. Could it be that our drive to produce cheaper and cheaper meat is making us sick? Surely it isn't just coincidence that Mexico's outbreak started next door to US owned Smithfield Corporation industrial pig farm. Between the toxic manure lakes and the dirty confined quarters these animals live in, perhaps the filth of our agri-greed is catching up with us in the form of H1N1. I love meat, but I'd happily eat less of it, pay more for it, and be proud to know my farmer was raising my food in a sustainable, healthy, and environmentally non-damaging manner.

I'm not alone in this, Avaaz.org recently delivered a petition to the WHO in Geneva demanding global investigation and regulation of factory farms. The reaction of the WHO is interesting and can be read here.