China’s Pork Industry Threatened by Swine Fever


Ella Ward

A deadly pig virus, also known as swine fever, is threatening China’s $128 billion pork industry. Since August 1, the virus has spread to seven provinces in China.


China is the world’s largest pork producer, as well as the world’s largest pork consumer. China has relatively small swine farms and can suffer from food safety and quality issues. Swine fever is a form of influenza that affects pigs. It is transmitted between pigs through close contact and with contaminated objects. In other animals, there is no obvious disease. Currently, 700 million pigs are produced on family farms, and 40,000 have died from swine flu. On average, 500 pigs are slaughtered for food each year.


If China is unable to contain the virus, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization claims it couldspread to the Korean Peninsula and Southeastern Asia, creating a regional crisis. Other countries affected could include Europe and South America. It is important to isolate and identify the disease before spreading quickens.


“I think there is panic in the market, especially among the pig breeders, as to when the outbreak can be stabilized,” said Zhu Zengyong, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.


The Penn Wharton China Center and the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine have been working with pork producers in China over the past couple years. There is currently no vaccine to combat the disease. Programs have been established to help introduce sustainable swine farming practices, including animal welfare, as well as business and leadership skills. Local animal health officials have been tasked with spreading information about the disease to the country’s pig farmers while the government has offered a subsidy of $117 for each pig infected with the virus.


It is important to inform others about the issue. Tenth grader, Emma Brenecki, declared, “I think that the best way to get the audience’s attention is by info commercials, since a lot of people watch tv. Do ads, spread it on social media.”


For humans, swine fever cannot be contracted. Pork is still safe to consumeas long as it is sterilized at a high temperature. Otherwise, it does not have a direct impact on human health and food safety.



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