Archive for pig

Trojan Pig

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Chicken and pig exports 1961-2011To get a handle on the world’s traffic in livestock for a paper I’m co-authoring, I graphed FAOSTAT data on global live chicken and pig exports by head, 1961-2011.

The time series appear to track geographically lengthening production-demand discrepancies–areas of high production meeting demands elsewhere. Globalization exploded in chickens by 1990–not long preceding bird flu H5N1–and, after a starting wobble in the 1990s led by the United States and NAFTA, in pigs by 2000.

Indeed, even excluding illegal trade the stats don’t pick up, pig exports more than doubled by the end of the decade, when swine flu H1N1 (2009) appeared with genomic segments from influenzas circulating among pig populations in both Eurasia and North America. New agricultural ressortants appear to be accumulating at an accelerating pace since, including H1N1v, H1N2v, H3N2v, H7N9, and now a new series confirmed last week, H6N1.

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The Parallax Pig

Posted in Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by farmingpathogens

Slavoj Žižek on the historical linguistics of  food production and consumption:

“‘Pig” refers to animals whom farmers deal, while “pork” is the meat we consume–and the class dimension is clear here: “pig” is the old Saxon word, since Saxons were the underprivileged farmers, while “pork” comes from French “porque,” used by the privileged Norman conquerors who mostly consumed the pigs raised by farmers.

Such a parallax–dual or dueling perspectives–can be found along other dimensions.  The kinds of social histories symbols and what they represent share can also be found in the mathematical modeling used to characterize these little piggies, their roast beef, and their wee pathogens all the way home.

The epidemiological formalisms deployed grew out of historical trajectories of their own, with all manner of interests–personal and political–shaping their inputs and  outcomes. We’re not talking here about acts of blatant corruption–how gauche!–but the way social presuppositions are built into modeling as ethically practiced.

Setting aside the obvious complications we are likely to encounter, in the interests of bringing the issue to a head, if you’ll excuse the hog pun, let me ask, Is there such a thing as a Norman modeling and its Saxon counterpart? Can we find Robin Hood in Sherwood Formalism?

The Scientific American

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by Rob Wallace

Science is the business right now. If the science works, the business works, and vice versa. –Craig Venter

Bird flu marinates a chicken in its own juices, a satay best avoided whatever the menu special. In such short an order better for the bistro than the barn infected birds rapidly bleed from the inside out.

What to do about this bit of bad news?

Broilers and layers are as much commodities as they are birds. As much engineering problems as living organisms. So ask research and development for a solution comes the answer.

It was, after all, by virtue of its open morphogenesis and behavioral flexibility that the chicken was first domesticated multiple times from red and grey jungle fowl distributed across South and Southeast Asia, artificially selected for the backyard, then scaled up in size and population to its factory model.

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