H1N1 misinformation still hurting hog industry
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- The H1N1-pork rumor is a bunch of hogwash. For all the publicity that has surrounded the H1N1 virus for a year or more now, you might think the connection between pigs and swine flu would be well understood. The pig-contracte...
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- The H1N1-pork rumor is a bunch of hogwash.
For all the publicity that has surrounded the H1N1 virus for a year or more now, you might think the connection between pigs and swine flu would be well understood. The pig-contracted version rarely occurs in humans and doesn't affect pork products.
Barbecue, ribs, bacon -- they're all perfectly fine and tasty for human consumption. They haven't been affected by H1N1 at all.
Yet after all these months of education and discussion in the media, classrooms, Congress and elsewhere, some people continue to think otherwise. Even people who should know better.
The U.S. Capitol Police recently refused to allow an animal rights group to truck hundreds of pigs to Capitol Hill because of concerns about swine flu. We can think of dozens of reasons to keep livestock away from public venues, but even if the police were looking for a convenient excuse, they chose the wrong one.
The department's statement only furthered misconceptions about pork products. And that has a real impact on farmers in North Carolina and other states that have battled the urban legend all year in their efforts to sell pork.
Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., who has farmed for much of his life, recently came to the aid of the producers this week, calling out the police for blaming the Capitol Hill response on a nonexistent threat.
"The pork industry is hurting economically from top to bottom," Etheridge says. "Banning pigs on a trumped-up charge hurts our farmers, their families and our local economy."
Etheridge did North Carolina and pork producers everywhere a favor by responding so publicly. H1N1 virus demands serious attention from health officials and the rest of us. Fueling an urban legend does no one any favors in the face of such a crisis.