El Nino and the Deadly pig disease


A lovely weekend, all going well. A positive mood, especially bearing in mind the global pandemic and then two articles in the local newspaper which dampened the moment.

I know we are making a mess of this planet. That’s why I am passionate about trying to save our oceans. But only we can be proactive in doing so. I suppose the question is, do articles like these motivate you?

The first article was from Bloomberg and detailed the disclosure of a new deadly pig disease in a wild hog in Germany. Swine flu has been around for a while and seems to raise its ugly head now again, when it is usually contained through massive culling of herds. The flu is not harmful to humans, but it can kill pigs it infects within 10days. So why am I mentioning this? To me it is another example of the fickle world we live in. How these diseases exist, die, revive and lead to devastation. Is that too dramatic? Put it into context with our experiences with Covid 19.

Let’s be a little more pointed. What are the ramifications of a spread of this disease? It will effectively mean a cull of pigs or at a least reduction in their export. The German pork industry is huge, the great amount of exports going to China. If there are NO exports, this will hurt Germany’s economy since German pork export outside the EU will be disrupted as the product will no longer meet veterinary export requirements. The German economy would be battered, probably to the temporary benefit to Spain, Denmark, the US, Canada and Brazil. This would also have a huge effect on the China market, the recipient of this pork. China’s own pork production was decimated some years ago with its own outbreak of the flu. They are being rebuild but would certainly not be in a position to meet the huge demand required on the Mainland.

The above economic fallout is an obvious ramification. But what about the production of Heparin? Heparin is a naturally animal derived, sugar-based molecule that’s administered by injection or infusion to prevent blood from coagulating. It is routinely prescribed for heart attack patients with clogged arteries, patients undergoing major orthopedic and cardiac surgery. Already, with African swine fever wiping out a quarter of the world’s pigs, primarily in China and now the possible hit on German production, doctors and drug makers around the world are sounding the alarm about a possible prolonged shortage of heparin, a critically important blood thinner. So very bad outcomes.

Now to the second article, again from Bloomberg, with the title ‘Price to pay as La Nina puts food supplies at risk. Oh my! El Nina is a weather system that brings unusually heavy rains or droughts usually at the end of crop growing seasons. The floods tend to hit South East Asia and east, central, and northern Australia. The droughts tend to hit southern United States and South America. The last significant La Nina episode occurred 2011 and led to lower crop production and in turn higher prices in the market. A spike in prices is not what one needs in a world where the economy is struggling.

This is a fish, seafood sustainability blog. As I mentioned at the start, however, we need to be cognizant of the world about us and what is happening. Maybe being hurt in the pocket will make us think more, be learned in the way we act and make an effort to save our environment for future generations. Purchasing responsibly sourced seafood is one of the building blocks in achieving this aim.



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