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The Paradox of African Swine Flu and The Brazilian Forest Fires

Pigs grazing in a field forest fire back drop

There is an epidemic of massive proportions of African Swine Flu in China ravaging the country and killing millions of pigs. A senior analyst, Christine McCracken at RaboReasearch, Netherlands, estimates this will equate to 300 million to 350 million pigs lost in China which is almost a quarter of the world’s pork supply. This has already spread to neighboring countries and is likely to be another 6 months to 3 years to control the virus for which there has been no vaccine or cure. Consequently, world pork prices have increased and in Europe and the UK there has been 20-50% price increases depending on the cuts according to pork processors.

It also means there has been a slight reduction in soy meal prices as China is importing less for pig feed. One of the key sources of soy is Brazil where farmers and developers are burning large areas of the Amazon rain forest to make way for increased farmland including the growing of Soya beans. The cost to the environment, global warming, natural vegetation and wildlife is yet to be fully understood.

The link between these 2 disasters is yet another reminder of the fragility of our planet and food supply chain in relation to animal and plant disease, deforestation and global warning.

Global warming and extreme weather, as we have witnessed, will continue to escalate leading to further damage to our supply chain unless there is a significant intervention. This, along with an increasing population and higher food demand, will inevitably lead to a rise in the vulnerability of the supply chain and an upsurge of emerging threats.

In the UK with Brexit we see additional threats to the supply chain. Instead of having the whole of Europe acting as a border post for the inspection of imported food products into the UK, we reduce to one island with the full responsibility. It is questionable, whether we have the infrastructure and resources to facilitate these controls in the adversity of growing instability in the food supply chain.

Please share your thoughts

Duncan Perry, Food Consultant and Microbiologist


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