Thursday, October 1, 2009

Price of Pork Down - A lack or an abundance of health literacy ?

"The pork industry is expected to lose billions by the end of the year. A steep drop in pork prices hit the industry in May, when the H1N1 virus was discovered. Though the virus still has not been found in U.S. swine herds, it initially was referred to as “swine flu,” and the name has stuck in popular culture. Some countries refused to import pork from North America and, despite efforts to spread the truth about the safety of pork, the reputation of swine was damaged for a time."
An interesting conundrum.
 The FDA wants swine farmers to test for H1N1 - knowing that viruses are common in swine herds and once herds recover they are ready for market.  But big business knows that if they test more and find more instances of virus this information, if it got out to the public ( and it would) would greatly effect how safe consumers would feel about buying and eating pork.
  If I weren't a striving vegetarian I could see myself working on communicating the science health literacy about this to the public - explaining the safety of pigs.
  You could focus on explaining viruses, how they work, that they already exist in so many animals that       we eat, and that surveillance on H1N1 virus in pigs is simply being done so scientists can learn about how the virus changes.

But as I'm writing this I'm thinking maybe, just maybe the public IS PUTTING ITS HEALTH LITERACY TO WORK JUST FINE.   

H1N1 is a nasty virus
Pigs have H1N1
Therefore eating pigs might be something to avoid.

Isn't this the precautionary principle at work?
Commercial markets aside - isn't this what we would urge people to do until more data is in?