Factory Farm “Cannibalism” and Rising Antibiotic Use Pose Serious Threats to Human Health

By Dr. Mercola

In 2014, nearly 10 percent of the entire swine population in the U.S. was wiped out by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) — a highly lethal virus traced back to pig’s blood used in piglet feed.

At the time, I noted that this was a perfect example of what tends to happen when you “cannibalize” the food system; feeding animal parts back to animals of the same species. This is especially true for herbivores like cows, where the practice is associated with lethal Mad Cow disease.

Pigs are omnivores, but even there the cannibal solution can lead to serious problems. You’d think the industry would have learned its lessons by now, but recent developments suggest otherwise.

Infected Pigs and Contaminated Manure Used to Combat Lethal Pig Virus

There’s no effective vaccine against PEDv, so to thwart the reemergence of the virus in offspring, some farmers are now feeding the intestines from baby pigs that died from the disease to their breeding hogs.1 According to Reuters,2 this “allows female hogs to become infected and pass on immunity to piglets …

Those fed infected food or otherwise exposed to the virus usually become sick for a few days, but then get well again.” Other farmers are spraying their pigs’ noses with a mixture of water and hog manure contaminated with the virus, in the hopes of creating a “natural vaccine.”

Yet another strategy being employed is to identify carriers of the virus, and then mix their manure into the feed given to female breeding hogs, “so they can pass on antibodies to piglets through their milk.”The antibiotics fed for weight gain contribute to a weakening immune system, which are a magnet for culturing and harboring viruses that have great opportunities for spreading.

So what we have here is a situation

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