Miss Piggy was one of my favourite characters from Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show” – oh, so many years ago. “Pigs in Space” gags still run in my head with that echoing voice over of the title. One particular scene has to do with a wall of their space ship that had been damaged. Props are being sucked out to space. Panic ensues, one thing leads to another until Miss Piggy ends up plugging the hole with her snout. Problem solved. You have to consider that I am recalling these scenes from a childhood memory, so the details may not be as accurate as they should be. But I am pretty certain about that snout in the hole.
Now how did we get there? Ah, the pigs in Geneva! Some weeks ago I signed up on Avaaz.org’s campaign to try and convince the WHO (World Health Organization, not the band) to verify the link between the “Swine Flu” or H1N1 virus (are they expecting more, hence the seemingly ‘Episode 1’ title?) and an American-owned factory farm in Mexico.
Well here’s the thank you note from Avaaz, and perhaps a better explanation of the campaign.
We stopped traffic in Geneva on May 27th as we descended on the World Health Organization (WHO) with a herd of cardboard pigs to deliver our petition! The 225 cardboard pigs represented the 225,000 Avaaz members that had signed the petition. We certainly got our message across — our campaign delivery went out around the world on ABC news, EFE TV, the Wall Street Journal, France 24, Kuwait News Agency, and Intellasia – as well as many other major news outlets.
When we handed over our petition, it became apparent how important our campaigning was and how valid our concerns were. Initially, the World Health Organization’s Food Safety and Zoonoses director, Dr. Jørgen Schlundt, told us that the WHO and the FAO had not found a definitive link between the H1N1 virus and a factory farm and that the source was still under investigation. But he then admitted scientists have seen more disease breeding and mutating between animals and humans with the massive increase in industrial meat production; he agreed that certain company’s farming practices (Smithfields in this case) were dangerous; he warned that new operations propagating in developing countries could make ‘mistakes’ in food safety that could be seriously risky to human health; and most importantly he indicated that the political processes that determine the research and rules on factory farm biosafety are dominated by the industrial meat lobby. He said strong global regulations were essential, but, to date, unless there is a huge scare like BSE and people die, scientists are unable to push through the laws needed to prevent animal borne pandemics.
The message was clear – our public campaigning for investigation and regulation of factory farms is vital to ensure our food safety and counter the powerful meat industry. Our action showed the WHO that the world does not want to wait for another disaster – we want funding for scientists to investigate factory farms and we want preventive measures put in place that ensure public heath standards.
They could have made the campaign more effective and classy (har har) if they had invited the dame of pigdom, Miss Piggy. Snort. Snort.
Click this sexy photo and see one of her amazing performances.