Thursday, May 30, 2013

Smithfield buy will change everything in the food industry

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: Here’s an interesting piece from Reuters: “China's appetite for pork spurs $4.7 billion Smithfield buy”. I just caught a few seconds of it on the TV news last night before going to the radio station, didn’t have time to look it up until this morning. Basically, the “Smithfield buy” will give China’s meat processing industry a global footprint. The U.S. has deplorably little regulation on this industry, which raises hogs in giant warehouses and butchers hogs on conveyor lines where the carcasses whiz by inspectors too fast for any kind of thoughtful inspection. We have a lot of hog pollution in the U.S. already, but it’s been modified because the organic industry uses hog poo to fertilize fields for U.S.D.A. certified organic produce and grain. Consumers are misled when they think the organic industry helps keep fields clean and healthy, but that’s another story. Smithfield is the world's largest hog owner and butcher. This buy by China means that everything we believe about the food industry can be disproved if the buy goes through. They’ll begin working to dismantle country-of-origin labeling, for example. And pollution standards, as wimpy as they are, will be a thing of the past as international standards, nonexistent, take over. I’m not a predictor and I try to write about what has happened rather than what might happen, but if the past is a teacher, this “Smithfield buy” has implications to bring our tottering planet to its knees.

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