29 September 2000
Swine fever ‘exposes fragile society’

By FWi staff

NEWS that a piece of infected pigmeat, possibly dropped by a walker, almost certainly caused the outbreak of swine fever is considered by the Daily Express.

Environment correspondent John Ingham says the news “underlines the fragility at the heart of our society”.

He compares it with the fuel blockade which came within hours of paralysing Britain, and the “I Love You” computer virus, which wreaked havoc worldwide.

Due to a discarded piece of pigmeat the pig industry, “already on its knees economically, found itself virtually flat out”, he writes.

But Mr Ingham cautions readers not to gloat.

“In our frenetic life in overdrive, a stray ham sandwich lies in wait for all of us.”

Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail natural history writer Colin Tudge launches a fierce attack against scientists wishing to create “zombie” farm animals.

These creatures would be genetically engineered to be oblivious to pain and stress but still produce eggs, milk or meat for human consumption.

Mr Tudge asks: “Can there ever have been, in the history of agricultural development a more repellent notion?

“How could any scientist conceive of a prospect more removed from all that we value in civilised life?”

He argues that modern husbandry is already too intensive, and that genetic engineering could take this to far more extreme levels.

A cow could be reduced to an udder to process fodder and produce 2000 gallons of milk, while piglets could be turned out in the thousands like termites, says Mr Tudge.

“We simply have to declare enough is enough on moral and aesthetic grounds,” says Mr Tudge.

“We dont want to be confronted by unnatural-looking monsters in the countryside.”

Mr Tudge says people should be prepared to “pay properly for food that is produced well and kindly”.