In the article “Breeding Influenza,” Rob Wallace talks precisely about what happens when the world’s natural order is disrupted. As humans come in close contact with nature, the risk of unexpected and fatal diseases and pandemics crawling into humans subsequently increases. To justify his claims, Wallace specifically talks about China’s Guangdong province and how a deadly pathogen, H5N1, emerged in this region in 1997. Capitalism, among others, is blamed by the author as the main reason for such outbreaks as MNCs and governments try to maximize their profits through economies of scale. While doing so, they care little about the spread of diseases, and these diseases are an externality of such organizations.
Instead of improving an already established agri-business industry, Wallace proposes that preference should be small-scale production, and a network of locally owned farms be set up. The region’s needs and social and natural conditions should be considered while practicing agriculture. Land should be used so that a sustainable system of nature is formed. Following these practices would have many advantages such as recycling, preventing the spread of deadly viruses, and fighting climatic changes instead of specialized farms producing only one thing. Apart from the long-term solution of ending the livestock industry as we know it, Wallace proposes some short-term solutions. These include a better-regulated trade at International borders, better livestock disease surveillance, providing epidemiological assistance to the world’s poor, and termination of structural adjustment programs that degrade animal health infrastructure.
Although Wallace is giving compelling solutions for humans’ betterment, we humans ourselves, won’t allow this to happen. We have become too dependent on the items produced by these large companies that dealing with their scarcity will be a problem for us. Not everyone would favor developing small-scale agriculture as not everyone can work for themselves since our way of life has drastically changed over a few decades. Apart from this, governments and powerful corporations would require a strong political will and unanimity. As Wallace himself dictates, this will not be easily possible as governments and corporations will be reluctant to let go of their vast profits and let their investments go into vain. Even if some reforms are brought, not all the countries will agree to these, leading to chaos. Moreover, the small scale limits the spread of the virus, but it does not entirely wipe out the possibility of spreading as pandemics have broken out in the pre-industrial era.
Strict laws and better regulatory systems should be applied to these agri-business corporates to ensure that this wide-scale production, which has become necessary, does not pose major threats to us. this is the only way to stop diseases and pandemics.