Farmers in Egypt clashed yesterday with officials who had come to destroy their pigs. They blocked the roads and some hurled stones at trucks and bulldozers sent by the health ministry. The trouble broke out after the government ordered the slaughter of all pigs in Egypt amid a wave of hysteria about "swine" flu.
The Mubarak regime's record in matters of public health and safety is a dismal one: more than 1,000 dead in a ferry disaster, more than 370 dead in a train fire, 50 dead in a theatre fire, plus treacherous roads, and buildings that fall down regularly on top of their occupants. Egypt also continues to have cases of bird flu – 26 people have died there since 2006, making it the worst-affected country outside Asia, where the disease originated.
This time, though, the regime has acted with uncharacteristic haste – even before there is a single suspected case of the H1N1 virus in the country, either among humans or even pigs. But its decision to kill 300,000-400,000 pigs is not just costly. It is also pointless.
As the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's chief veterinary officer put it yesterday, the cull is "a real mistake". "There is no reason to do that. It's not a swine influenza, it's a human influenza," he said. Time magazine has more, explaining why we shouldn't blame pigs. MORE IN THE GUARDIAN