Miyazaki’s on-going Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak has got me thinking of Mike Davis‘ Monster At Our Door book and TomDispatch Interview on slums and disease.(available in Japanese translation too). Especially the way pundit-types in Japan seem to be trying to blame the outbreak on Korean and Hongkong, your (former) colonies always seem to be sending evil your way. As if Korean farmers aren’t facing the same kinds of problems as Japanese farmers. Foot and Mouth Disease has also been a problem in England. Is this another example of "ecological disorder of a very radical kind" that hasn’t gotten as much attention because the disease isn’t as lethal for people as Aids, Sars or the flu? Here’s Mike Davis interviewed on TomDispatch talking of the economic and social pressures of corporate-run ‘globalization’ that encourage pandemics and ‘bilogical disaster’ in general.
This is ecological disorder of a very radical kind and it has changed the ecology of influenza and the conditions under which animal diseases pass to humans. It’s also happened at a time when public health in much of the urban Third World has declined. One of the consequences of structural adjustment in the 1980s was to force hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, and public-health workers to emigrate, leaving Kenya or the Philippines to work in England or Italy.
This is a formula for biological disaster and avian flu is the second pandemic of globalization. It’s very clear now that HIV AIDS emerged at least partially through the bush-meat trade, as West Africans were forced to turn to bush meat because European factory ships were vacuuming up all the fish in the Gulf of Guinea, the major traditional source of protein in urban diets. There’s also a hypothesis, with a lot of circumstantial evidence, that HIV probably reached a critical mass in Kinshasha [in the Congo], a great city that is the ultimate current example of what happens after the state collapses or withdraws.
So HIV, avian flu, SARS — another disease that emerged from the bush-meat trade, this time in the cities of southern China, and spread around the world with frightening speed. This is the future of disease…
Of course the corporate and political shenanigans undertaken by the privileged just add fuel to the disorderly bonfire of ecocide just as with the Swine Flu in Mexico. Japan is all atwitter with rumors that the corporate undertaking seeking to profit from water buffalo chees tried to hide the first cases of Foot And Mouth Disease. The Agura Farm may have benefited from political connections that shield them from the media, not to mention criminal charges. There is a lot of Japanese chat about the farm owner being the son of a Pachinko firm owner that contributes to agriculture, forestry and fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu campaigns.
The central government admitted Tuesday that it may have mishandled the outbreak after it became known local authorities overlooked the infection during an on-site inspection in late March.
"There may have been certain problems in terms of having done everything we could to prevent the expansion," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said. "The government will be united in working to avert further expansion of the infections, especially so people in the Kyushu area will feel safe."
The debacle also brings to mind basic Agroecology principles that diversity is more stable. It would seem that Markets Hate Farmers, and the relentless branding and selling of one kind of meat could have lead to a lack of genetic diversity leaving the livestock populations vulnerable in spite of avoiding the unsanitary conditions of slumifacation faced by livestock in the United States. It would seem like most of the livestock were produced from the semen from only a few dozen cows. That can’t be sustainable.
Together accounting for 90% of artificial breeding in the prefecture, the six bulls were evacuated May 13 from a facility close to a town hit by foot-and-mouth disease.
I have a hunch that most calves are produced by artificial insemination. It’s like a little cottage industry, you stumble on little barns of 3 to 5 cows all over the place. Raising calves to supply meat suppliers provides some cash revenue to small-scale farmers. "A pig typically sells for about ¥35,000 and a cow for ¥500,000 to ¥1 million". I wonder about the genetic similarity and shared vulnerability of Japan’s fat-laced ‘Wagyu’ cows.
Miyazaki had 314,600 cows as of Feb. 1, accounting for 7.1 percent of the Japanese herd, and 914,500 pigs, 9.2 percent of the national total, Kokuho said.
Miyazaki also plays a significant role in supplying high-quality "wagyu" beef because farmers in Matsuzaka, Mie Prefecture, and other places buy calves from Miyazaki to breed them. Matsuzaka beef is considered the highest quality beef in Japan.
According to statistics compiled by the National Livestock Breeding Center, 84,059 "kuroge" (black hair) wagyu were born in Miyazaki in the year that ended in March 2009, accounting for 14.8 percent of that type of cow born in Japan. Kuroge wagyu is the most tender of all beef and thus the most popular in Japan.
You can’t help but think all these disinfection stations and animal cullings are inklings of a disease-ridden future if we don’t get our act together and implement some Foodfirst.org and ViaCampesina style policies to provide a secure food system, free of Walden Bello‘s Food Wars.
The previously unheard of seasonal local paper has made an impression with coverage of politically connected corporate maneuvers that instigated and worsened the pandemic.