Pro­tect farm­ers from swine fever threat

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - (By Vir­ginia Benosa-Llorin, cam­paigner of Green­peace South­east Asia Philip­pines)

GREEN­PEACE calls for in­creased mea­sures to bet­ter pro­tect the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture and farm­ers from the threat of in­fec­tion from the African Swine Fever (ASF), which has now reached South­east Asia, in­clud­ing the adop­tion of poli­cies to curb the coun­try’s high con­sump­tion of im­ported in­dus­trial meat.

We com­mend the DA’s (De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture) move to re­call all pork prod­ucts from coun­tries af­fected by ASF and strongly sup­port the call of the hog in­dus­try to im­pose a sus­pen­sion on the im­por­ta­tion of pork and pro­cessed pork prod­ucts from high-risk coun­tries.

How­ever, the govern­ment needs to look be­yond pre­vent­ing en­try. Be­ing one of the largest con­sumers of meat, pork in par­tic­u­lar, our coun­try needs en­abling poli­cies and pro­grams to veer con­sump­tion away from im­ported in­dus­trial meat

Dur­ing the last quar­ter of 2018, the DA al­ready banned the en­try of pork and pork-based prod­ucts from coun­tries af­fected by ASF, but Green­peace pointed out that shift­ing away from in­dus­trial meat is needed not only to lessen myr­iad risks to peo­ple’s health, but also to min­i­mize the toll on the en­vi­ron­ment, the cli­mate, and the liveli­hoods of lo­cal small farm­ers.

In­dus­trial live­stock agri­cul­ture—rais­ing cows, pigs and chick­ens in fac­tory farms—gen­er­ates as much green­house gas emis­sions as all cars, trucks and au­to­mo­biles com­bined, aside from plac­ing lo­cal small farm­ers at a dis­ad­van­tage and open to ex­ploita­tion. Shift­ing to eco­log­i­cal agri­cul­ture can feed the coun­try bet­ter and cre­ate ben­e­fits for our famers and the cli­mate, as well as en­sure ac­ces­si­ble plant-based op­tions and a di­verse diet that pro­vides bet­ter nutri­tion for our cit­i­zens.

The United Na­tions’ Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) re­ports that ASF con­tin­ues to spread within China, where more than one mil­lion pigs have been culled in an ef­fort to halt the con­ta­gion that con­tin­ues to spread, now af­fect­ing neigh­bor­ing coun­tries Viet­nam, Mon­go­lia and Cam­bo­dia.

Pre­ven­tion of ASF de­pends largely on strin­gent im­port poli­cies to en­sure that nei­ther in­fected live pigs nor pork prod­ucts are in­tro­duced into ar­eas still free of ASF, in­clud­ing feed­ing in­fected meat to sus­cep­ti­ble pigs.

We urge the govern­ment to in­crease its level of sup­port for farm­ers to shift to­wards eco­log­i­cal meth­ods of grow­ing food and rais­ing an amount of live­stock that the planet can sus­tain, so that peo­ple have bet­ter ac­cess to healthy, plant-based food.

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