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Suspected epicentre of swine flu is CDM project

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | 8:45 PM

Note: Almost like our "almost defunct" Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the approach of US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is also quite end-of-pipe, technocentric and indulgent in seeking companies to undertake planned disposal of their waste. Before the outbreak of the flu, most people did not seem concerned about pandemics, previously unknown diseases, or diseases related to animals, such as mad cow disease.

In his essay, Crimes Against Nature, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says, "I prosecute polluters on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance. As George W. Bush began his presidency, I was involved in against the factory-pork industry, which is a large source of air and water pollution in America. Corporate pork factories cannot produce more efficiently than traditional family farmers without violating several federal
environmental statutes. Industrial farms illegally dump millions of tons of untreated fecal and toxic waste onto land and into the air and water. Factory farms have contaminated hundreds of miles of waterways, put tens of thousands of family farmers and fishermen out of work, killed billions of fish, sickened consumers and subjected millions of farm animals to unspeakable cruelty. On behalf of several farm groups and fishermen, we sued Smithfield Foods and won a
decision that suggested that almost all of American factory farms were violating the Clean Water Act. The Clinton EPA had also brought its own parallel suits addressing chronic air and water violations by hog factories. But almost immediately after taking office, the Bush administration ordered the EPA to halt its Clean Air Act investigations of animal factories and weaken the water rules to allow them to continue polluting indefinitely."

A deadly new influenza virus has managed to migrate from pigs to people in hitherto unseen mutated form and has the potential of spreading among humans across the globe। This outbreak seems to be a case of nature biting back at industrial food production.

Gopal Krishna

Suspected epicentre of swine flu is CDM project

A pig farm in Mexico claimed to be the source of swine flu is host to a UN-registered CDM project.

The clean development mechanism (CDM) project, which has not gone into operation, was to be developed by UK-listed Ecosecurities at a pig farm near the town of La Perote in Veracruz state.

Media reports have cited the farm as a possible source of swine flu that threatens to become a global pandemic.

However the plant’s owners and the Mexican government said there is no evidence for these claims, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is carrying out an investigation at the site.

“Depending on the outcome of the investigation from the FAO, it is feasible that, if it had been implemented, the project would have helped by improving waste management on the site,” said Belinda Kinkead, head of implementation of Ecosecurities.

Little impact

Kinkead said swine flu was unlikely to have a major impact on supply of credits - unless the Mexican government was to order a mass cull of pigs in order to prevent the spread of disease. But so far the government shows few signs of doing this until a firm link is established between porcine and human influenza.

According to design documents, projects that capture animal waste in Mexico could supply around 23 million carbon credits from the Kyoto protocol’s CDM between now and the end of 2012. But the percentage of credits generated by the sector is typically only a quarter of that promised.

Of the 89 projects in the sector registered by the UN, just 16 projects have been issued with credits.

Ecosecurities has plans to develop 28 CDM projects in Mexico that cut methane emissions from pig waste, but only 10 have gone into operation, as the credits yielded by such projects is now so small as to render them unfeasible, Kinkaid said.

AWMS

Other investors in animal waste management systems (AWMS) include Agcert, a company that was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange. AES Agriverde, which now controls Agcert’s methane capture projects, said it couldn’t comment on the impact of swine flu on its Mexican operations because the company operates a media blackout in advance of declaring quarterly earnings.

Besides trying to sell CDM credits from projects developed by Agcert, the company aims to generate credits that could be sold in a future federal trading scheme in the US. Only last week, before news of swine flu broke, a US developer Environmental Credit Corp said it would try and generate 200,000 CERs from methane capture projects in Mexico. Cargill, a large US commodities trader, is also involved in methane capture CDM projects in Mexico, and is named as a participant in the La Perote project now being investigated by the FAO.

However, no one from the company was available to comment at press time.

Flies

Media outlets from across the world have reported claims by villagers close to the La Perote pig farm that flies feeding on animal waste at the facility had helped spread swine flu to the local human population. The FAO has said so far there is no evidence that swine flu has spread directly from pigs to humans in this way.

At pig farms, companies such as Ecosecurities use technology known as an anaerobic digester to cover up lagoons of animal waste at pig farms and then generate electricity from the captured methane.

By John McGarrity - jm@pointcarbon.com
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