Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) has killed more than 10% of the entire US pig population in the last year. It is a corona virus that infects the cells lining the small intestine of a pig, causing porcine epidemic diarrhoea and dehydration.
This is a virus that was first reported in 1971 in Britain but never identified in the US until April 2013. Officials believe this strain came from China and, by within 12 months, PEDv cases were reported in 30 states.
As the virus causes intense diarrhea, the youngest piglets can’t survive once it’s passed to them through their mothers as they are unable to absorb the milk. These piglets are left to die, and the piglets that haven’t died from dehydration are killed with carbon monoxide. Then the carcasses are taken to rendering plants to be recycled as animal feed.
Though researchers have no exact knowledge of how this virus is spread, the National Renderers Association says the pig carcasses are heated to a minimum of 240 degrees for 40 minutes. This is apparently a suitable approach to take, and the pigs who are still alive are then fed the recycled carcasses in forced cannibalism—a common practice across factory farms.
The virus is not a human consumption safety issue since as it cannot be passed onto humans, but it does affect the price of pig meat and the NBC reports that it has “also taken an emotional toll on farmers and their workers”. Specifically, a farmer named Greg Lear in Iowa said, “How do you keep up employee morale when you’re asking, ‘How many are dead today?’ Those pigs should have been walking out of the barn, and we were carrying them out. Mentally it just hammers you.”
What is most revolting about this article is the language used to disperse a specific attitude. The audience is manipulated into feeling empathy for the hardship that these farmers are now enduring, while the only time remorse is felt towards these living, breathing sentient beings is when they fail to serve their property purpose. It suggests that morale is high when these animals are healthy enough to torture and send to a horrific death, but morale is low when there’s no chance to do that.
When such attitudes and views are passed along through media with such blatant disregard towards the lives of these animals, it’s little wonder so many people are indoctrinated into the belief that animals are worth nothing but how much they can be sold for.