Public health experts ask the SCJN to close down pig farm in Yucatan

Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

Mèrida, Yucatàn (May 07, 2021).- Scientists, doctors, and public health experts presented this May 5th, a legal document before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of Mexico (SCJN), supporting the constitutional claims raised by Maya indigenous people, who oppose the approval and operation of the animal industry farm in the Yucatan peninsula. 

They question the decision of the Mexican authorities to allow the industrial operation of a farm with 49 thousand pigs in an ecologically sensitive area near the Maya town of Homún in Yucatàn. “Allowing massive installation, despite the risks of contamination to air quality, water, and human health, violating the right of Maya girls and boys to a healthy environment, as well as their autonomy as indigenous people.”

The case, which has resulted in the suspension of operation of the facilities, is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Mexico later this year. “Pollution derived from industrial pig farms has already disproportionately degraded huge tracts of land and the water table of indigenous communities in the Yucatan Peninsula,” said Alejandro Olivera, Mexico representative of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Adding another mega farm will overwhelm this fragile ecosystem with noxious animal fumes and excrement,” he concluded.  

The letter sent, which is called “Friend of the Court” or Amicus Curiae, signed by Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, Greenpeace Mexico, Waterkeeper Alliance, and experts Larry Baldwin, Dr. Lawrence Cahoon, Dr. Meghan Davis, among others, lays out substantial scientific evidence on the serious and irreversible damage to human health and the environment associated with industrial pig farm operations. These damages include water pollution, including cenotes, the emission of harmful air pollution, the spread of dangerous pathogens, and the contribution to climate change. 

“Numerous scientific studies provide evidence that industrial pig operations release pollutants into neighboring communities, where they affect the health and quality of life of neighbors. Such operations have been associated with increases in respiratory and asthma symptoms, blood pressure, stress and anxiety among residents who live nearby, ”said Dr. Jill Johnston, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Keck School of Medicine. Southern California, who is also signing this letter.  

The signatories noted that animal farm operations are notorious pollutants, and the operation of this particular farm could generate more than 272 million kilograms of urine and feces each year, more than the entire human population of the United States generates. In places like Tijuana, however, this waste will be stored in uncovered wells and then disposed of in nearby fields, a practice employed by many industrial animal farms in the United States. 

“The Yucatan Peninsula is frequently affected by hurricanes, which will probably cause the waste pits at this facility to overflow,” said Dr. Ana María Rule, assistant professor of health and environmental engineering and director of the Exposure Assessment Laboratory. from Johns Hopkins University. “It has already happened in the United States several times in recent years, and there is no reason to believe that it will not happen in the most fragile and unique ecosystem in the Yucatan Peninsula,” he said.  

“Factory farming puts our health and the health of the environment at risk. This type of intensive production is close to population centers and cities, resulting in increased exposure to disease. That is why we must seek a transition from the agro-industrial model, towards an agroecological, sustainable and healthy production method that respects the cycles of nature and guarantees the rights of people ”, said Viridiana Lázaro, of Agriculture and Food of Greenpeace Mexico. 

For his part, Guillermo Zúñiga Martínez, a lawyer for Earthjustice, stated that Mexican and international law requires that the authorities apply the precautionary principle, and the message of the precautionary principle is clear: “we must stop unacceptable risks before damage occurs”.

Zúñiga Martínez said. “Pig industrial operations poison workers and communities and threaten the unique environment of the Yucatan Peninsula. Authorities should not wait for children to get sick before recognizing what everyone knows to be true: that advanced waste treatment technology is necessary to protect people and the environment, and this facility must adopt advanced functional technology before operations are resumed, ” the specialist emphasized.

Souce: La Jornada Maya