Archive for Cargill

Made in Minnesota

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by rgwallace

This photo provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows chickens in a trench on a farm in northwest Iowa. Millions of dead chickens and turkeys are decomposing in fly-swarmed piles near dozens of Iowa farms, culled because of a bird flu virus that swept through the state's large poultry operations. (Iowa Department of Natural Resources via AP)

From the outside, the headquarters of the Cankor Health Group resembles a garage. The interior is modeled after an industrial poultry factory. The lobby is a dank, low-ceilinged concrete chamber. Upon entering, employees and visitors are asked to ingest a small capsule…The fast-acting drug produces a series of vivid hallucinations. –Ben Katchor (2013)

Industrial turkey and chicken in Minnesota, and other states Midwest and South, have been hit by a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza A (H5N2). Millions of birds have been killed by the virus or culled in an effort to control the outbreak.

The epizootic began with a soft opening, hitting a handful of backyard farms and wild birds in December in Washington and Oregon before spreading east. Suddenly in early March, H5N2 wiped out 15,000 turkeys on an industrial farm in Pope County, Minnesota, the first of what would be nearly 9 million birds and counting killed or culled across 108 farms over 23 counties.

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H5N2 Much

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2015 by rgwallace

John Gaps III AP Rose Acre Farms, IowaA week from Thursday, June 11, I’ll be talking about the H5N2 bird flu outbreak here in the Midwest at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. Find out the details here. All are welcome.

Midwest bird flu: A diseconomy of industrial poultry

Industrial turkey and chicken in Minnesota, and other states Midwest and South, have been hit by a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza A (H5N2). Millions of birds have been killed by the virus or culled in an effort to control the outbreak.

In its efforts to protect a $265.6-billion-a-year industry, the poultry sector has laid blame upon farm workers and wild waterfowl. In actuality, H5N2 demonstrates poultry production is defined by inherent diseconomies of scale it survives solely by externalizing the resulting damage to consumers, workers, governments and the environment. In a market economy, such costs, moved back onto company margins, would end the industry as we know it.

We will review the mechanisms by which poultry’s bioeconomics is thought sooner than later to select a deadly disease with the potential for killing millions of people worldwide. We will also address what an alternate food landscape might look like.

You can find a video of the half-hour talk here.

Collateralized Farmers

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2014 by rgwallace

In the course of his sensational exposé of Big Meat, of which I’m still in the midst, Christopher Leonard falls upon both a solution to a mystery central to influenza epizoology and a foundational admission on the part of the poultry industry.

It’s common knowledge that agribusiness are vertically integrated. All nodes of poultry or pig production are placed here in the States under each of the Big Five’s roofs. Cargill, Smithfield, JBS Swift, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson raise their birds and hogs and beef from fertilization to freezer.

But that isn’t quite correct. “There is one link in the chain that Tyson [much as the other companies] has decided not to own,” Leonard writes, Continue reading

The Bug Has Left the Barn

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by rgwallace

Cary Grant His Girl Friday 2Hildy Johnson: [speaking to Walter on the phone] Did you hear that? That’s the story I just wrote. Yes, yes, I know we had a bargain. I just said I’d write it, I didn’t say I wouldn’t tear it up! It’s all in little pieces now, Walter, and I hope to do the same for you some day!
[hangs up emphatically]
Hildy Johnson: [to the other reporters] And that, my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game.
–Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, His Girl Friday (1940)

On Thursday the local paper here published two articles the editors could never connect in a million years, even if it had occurred to them to do so. Think trying to stick together two powerful magnets of the same polarity.

The first—big headline on the front page, “FLU OUTBREAK RIVALS DEADLY 2009 PANDEMIC”—described a record 123 Minnesota children testing positive for flu at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, higher than the highest week during the 2009 outbreak.

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A Critical Moment in Influenza’s History

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by rgwallace

Featherless ChickensI gave the following presentation last night at Give & Take, a show and tell for adults held at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. The organizers ask all presenters (and audience members) two questions: What do you know about? What do you want to know about? A lot of fun and a great learning experience. Other than the photo of the featherless chickens I show none of my slides here, but I think you’ll get the picture.

We begin with a visceral abomination. We recoil at the sight of these chickens bred for baldness. But we recoil for reasons other than those for flinching at mystery meats, for instance. We’re repulsed by the meat because we can’t connect our food to something identifiably organic.

Our featherless friends, on the other hand, seem a violation of temporality. We don’t expect the finished broiler—leg, breast, wings—to be walking about on its own. The sequence is all wrong.

You can imagine these as stars of your own personal Latourian nightmare. You’re dreaming you’re in your local supermarket—maybe only in your underwear, maybe not—and you watch these two birds walk down aisle 6 and hop right into a meats freezer. You look down into the freezer. Shivering birds “Hello, bok, bok, bok, I’m a red dot special! I’m a red dot special!” You wake up in a cold sweat with feathers from your pillow floating everywhere.

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