Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Atishoo! Atishoo! We All Fall Down

Thanks to MATT in the Telegraph

Plenty of fixes this week for the news-addicted with the media response to swine flu. 24-hour rolling news coverage, sneeze-by-sneeze analysis and the BBC’s Q&A page and interactive map (or 'use this map to explore the Swine flu outbreak in pictures, audio, video and text') combine with slightly disturbing enthusiasm to offer an unprecedented voyeuristic experience as we wait for the axe to fall.

For the conspiracy theorists (and smug vegetarians) there is rich material for speculation on the Hubris that is intensive farming. The Times reports that the first recorded cases occurred in an area blighted by slurry lagoons from a massive feedlot or, euphemistically, Confined Animal Feeding Operation (See ‘Fast Food Nation’ for elucidation) that raises almost 1 million animals a year.

If there is a connection – and 60% of the local inhabitants falling sick looks pretty conclusive – then Swine Flu will join nvCJD and e-coli in the rogues’ gallery of diseases linked to modern intensive farming and production methods.

As a character in ‘The Day of the Triffids’ points out, we’ve been walking for years along a tight-rope of our own making, our eyes deliberately closed to the depths beneath us; the wonder is not that we are now falling, but that we managed somehow to balance as long as we did.

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