<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Mounting Threat of Food Safety  

Talking about the bomb stuff and terrorists
yesterday got me thinking about how easy it
would be for a terrorist to mess with the food
supply. I have read about the fact that there
is some worry about just that, but the industry
is trying to tell the government that they have
everything under control and that they have
enough security. Either that or they tell them
that it is too expensive to implement without
the government's help, which of course means
more subsidies=tax dollars from American
taxpayers. Now, as an individual that does
not eat meat, I believe it is unfair for me to
have to prop up the factory farming industry,
which I disagree with so completely for so
many reasons. This is not how I want my
tax dollars spent. The industry should have
to make sure that what they sell to consumers
is safe. If they cannot guarantee that it is, then
they should pay to make it so. But they should
not expect people like myself to pay for it. If it
means raising the price of meat, so be it. Let
the people who consume it pay for it. Don't
take food out of my family's mouth to pay for it
because I have made personal choices to not be
a part of the problem anymore. (But I digress.
Back to the point I am trying to get across.)

Now, I don't know how it is in other parts of
the country at other plants, but I can tell you
how safe the food coming out of the Tyson
plant in Grannis is. It has the most lax
security of any chicken plant I have ever seen.
It doesn't even have a fence around it keeping
anyone out, much less any type of security
guard. Part of the south parking lot is taken
up by a piece of private property and a public
street. A street also cuts the west end of the
Tyson property almost in half. Anybody that
wanted to could just walk in off the street and
nobody would ever know.

When I worked down there I organized a
group to monitor this problem myself, but
once I left this fell apart. I found out the other
day when I ran into an ex-co-worker that just
about everyone left back dock down there after
I did . He had also left a while back. Several
people just quit, saying that conditions were
worse down there after I left and they couldn't
stand it anymore.

There is also the problem of the large number
of illegals that Tyson knowingly hires. To an
uneducated eye, an Arab and a Mexican would
look similar enough not to cause suspicion.
All they would have to learn to do is to speak
Spanish. It is quite obvious to me that they
have the patience and motivation to take the
time to do that. They could then go to any
Tyson plant in this state that I have worked
at because all of these plants hire illegals.

Many of these plants produce finished
products. When it goes out of the plant all
the customer has to do is heat it up. Waldron
is a good example of that. From my other
posts it should be obvious that it would be
easy to sneak a bio-agent in there on the line.

This scenario also assumes that the only
people that would be motivated to do some-
thing like this are foreign terrorists. What
about all these disgruntled workers I wrote
about yesterday? Do you think if they had the
expertise that they would refrain from doing
something like this to hurt Tyson's image and
make them lose a lot of money? Are you willing
to bet your life on that? What about the life
of your child?

This scenario also assumes that the bug would
be introduced in the plant. The chicken houses
themselves have no security either. Some of
them around here are so open you can see
inside of them as you drive down the highway.
No fences, no guards, not even a locked door
in many cases. Anyone could walk in at any
time and release a bio-agent that would spread
from the chickens to humans, thus poisoning
the food supply for who knows how many people.

Cooking and freezing doesn't kill everything,
not even all the natural bacteria. If it did,
thousands of people wouldn't get sick, some
fatally, every year. Salmonella, E. coli, listeria,
etc. are already making antibiotic-resistant
strains by themselves. This alone could be a
ticking bio-weapon in itself. The terrorists and
disgruntled employees would never have to lift
a finger.

Mother Nature herself could unleash an
epidemic before much longer if they don't
quit using so many antibiotics to keep these
animals alive in the filthy conditions that
would normally kill them even more than they
do now. There are so many things wrong with
this industry and so many ways that society
is setting itself up for real disaster by allowing
it to continue with its current business practices.

What worries me even more is that I read an
article yesterday that says the EPA is not going
to regulate the sludge coming out of these
places because the threat is so low. That
means there will be an increasing amount of
this stuff spread all over the land and in the
water and air. Mostly they were addressing the
dioxin problem, but what about these so-called
"super-germs"? If we keep allowing the industry
to regulate itself, how long before airborne
super-germs emerge from the stew of sludge
these places create?

The current administration is removing the few
safeguards that we have to watch over our
health and environmental safety. It is time
to reverse that trend. The industry has
proved that it cannot be trusted. It has
certainly been proven time and again that they
value profits over anything else, even people.
That should be obvious to all who have read
even a small portion of what I have had to say
over the past month and a half.

I am not going to judge those who continue
to indulge in meat in their diet. I do, however
believe that those people should be informed
of the risks that are ever-increasing with the
practice. The animals being raised and sold
today are not like the ones that were raised
on family farms. If we do not get a handle
on this problem it will continue to grow.
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