Jonathan Safran Foer: Factory Pig Farming Caused Swine Flu

NYTIMES.COM | 11/10/09

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Read More: animal rights, ellen, factory farming, health, jonathan safran foer

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Appearing on the Ellen Degeneres Show, the author Jonathan Safran Foer complained about factory farming and blamed it for the proliferation of the H1N1 virus.

Until now, debate over the relationship between the H1N1 influenza virus and large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations -- defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as agricultural operations over a certain size "where animals are kept and raised in confined situations" -- has been simmering outside the limelight.

Last Wednesday, however, the debate hit the mainstream during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show by Jonathan Safran Foer (above), the author most recently of "Eating Animals," which is described by Kirkus Reviews as a "case for veganism" and "a blend of solid-and discomforting-reportage with fierce advocacy that will make committed carnivores squeal."

During his chat with Ms. DeGeneres, who is an advocate of veganism, Mr. Safran Foer said factory farming created swine flu.

"This swine flu that's now an epidemic, they've been able to trace it back to a farm in North Carolina," he said. "A hog farm. Nobody knows this. Nobody talks about it. We've been told this lie that it came from Mexico."

Mr. Safran Foer was apparently referring to research that shows that the H1N1 influenza pandemic has genetic roots in a swine-flu outbreak at a North Carolina pig farm in the late 1990s.

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