Who's Afraid of Swine Flu? The Intersection of Capitalism, Food & Disease

For at least the third time in recent years, the threat of a deadly viral pandemic has swept the globe. Starting with SARS in 2003, then
Avian flu, and now Swine flu, fear and panic have gripped the public as the media warn that humanity is overdue for the type of devastating viral pandemic that killed tens of millions in 1918.

How real are these warnings? Why do these viral threats surface and then seemingly disappear? Is it media hype or is there a real cause
for concern? Given that the last two viral scares were linked to factory-farmed animals, what are the links between influenza pandemics, capitalism and food?

These and other questions will be analyzed from an interdisciplinary approach.

Dr. Laura S. Boylan will talk about “Swine and Men” examining the history of viral pandemics in people and their animals with a focus on the most recent outbreak, a WHO designated global pandemic. New York has more cases and fatalities than any other state and yet there’s no evidence it’s as lethal as “regular” flu.

Arun Gupta will analyze “Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” demystifying the hidden political and economic systems behind this simple breakfast food. Gupta will look at how government agricultural policies, the rise of Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operations, the fast-food industry and the construction of consumer taste have transformed the once-humble strip of bacon into a highly profitable product that poses a grave threat to the environment and public health.

Laura S. Boylan, MD is Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine. She practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs and at several Pennsylvania hospitals in addition to speaking and writing on policy, ethics and other social aspects of medicine and healthcare and is a contributer to the Indypendent.

Arun Gupta is a founding editor of The Indypendent and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute.

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