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Originally published March 21 2013

Thousands of dead pigs discovered floating in Shanghai river that provides drinking water to millions in China

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The bodies of 13,000 dead pigs have been founds in the rivers and streams that supply the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai with its drinking water. The carcasses are believed to have floated downstream from the city of Jiaxing in the Zhejiang province, although the deputy mayor of that city has avoided accepting responsibility.

Jiaxing is a major hog farming town, with roughly 130,000 farmers raising more than seven million pigs. Jiaxing has also recovered more than 3,500 dead pigs from its own streams since the carcasses began appearing in early March.

Chinese agricultural officials said that the pigs do not appear to have been killed by a single epidemic, but rather by a combination of fluctuating temperatures and at least two separate diseases, common porcine circovirus and epidemic diarrhea virus.

They appear to have ended up in rivers due to illegal dumping, following recent police campaigns against farmers and distributors who illegally sell meat from diseased pigs considered unfit for consumption. Police have already identified one Jiaxing farmer who has confessed to a illegally dumping dead pigs.

Signs of a larger problem

The presence of thousands of rotting carcasses in rivers that supply drinking water to more than 23 million people has highlighted growing concerns among the Chinese public over the safety of their food, water and environment in a country where economic growth is prioritized over all other concerns. In recent years, the Chinese government has come under increasing domestic criticism over a systemic lack of transparency about such issues.

"At first, when I saw the pig news ... I was very angry about the farmers who threw the pigs into the river, and worried whether the pigs have swine fever," said 29-year-old Shanghai bank clerk Ma Rui. "I keep watching every day, but I found there is less and less news about it."

Ma said that he and many other Shanghai residents have long been concerned about contamination of their air, water and soil.

"Shanghai is surrounded by chemical plants, and now dead pigs became another pollutant," he said. "In recent years, the most popular year-end bonus ... from my company is organic food."

According to Greenpeace, water pollution is a major problem in China that goes far beyond dead pigs.

"The pig incident is just an incident that doesn't happen every day, but [water] pollution caused by chemical fertilizer and pesticide is like the elephant in the room, it's already there and getting worse and worse every day," said the group's Pan Wenjing.

In fact, the Chinese government openly admits that the majority of its rivers are polluted or seriously polluted. As part of a recent water diversion project, the government forced the closure of 900 separate factories that would have contaminated the project's central route.

But according to saleswoman Sunny Han, who makes a nice profit selling face masks to protect Shanghai residents from smog, it is unlikely that the government will truly address its pollution problem any time soon.

"[The government] will talk about pollution but won't have any measures to deal with it," she said. "In China, economic development comes first."


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