[act-ma] Mon. Jun 20, Tue, Jun 21: Do Big Farms Make Big Flu: Agroeconomics of Zika, Ebola and H5N2

Paul Malachi paul.malachi at gmail.com
Fri Jun 17 18:25:30 PDT 2016

A book talk by Rob Wallace, Institute for Global Studies, University of

Drawing from his new book, Big Farms Make Big Flu, evolutionary biologist
Rob Wallace will explore the ways influenza and other pathogens emerge from
an agriculture controlled by multinational corporations.

Two Events in Boston:
Monday Jun. 20, 6:30 PM at Encuentro 5 (9A Hamilton Place Boston)
Tuesday Jun 21, 6:30 PM at MIT 4 - 231 (77 Mass Ave Cambridge)

Organized by: MIT Science for the People, Center for Marxist Education, &
Massachusetts Global Action

Thanks to breakthroughs in production and food science, agribusiness has
been able to devise new ways to grow more food and get it more places
quickly. There is no shortage of news items on the hundreds of thousands of
hybrid poultry—each animal genetically identical to the next—packed
together in megabarns, grown out in a matter of months, then slaughtered,
processed, and shipped to the other side of the globe.

Less well known are the deadly pathogens mutating in, and emerging out of,
these specialized agro-environments. In fact, many of the most dangerous
new diseases in humans can be traced back to such food systems, among them
Campylobacter, Nipah virus, Q fever, hepatitis E, and a variety of novel
influenza variants. Other deadly diseases, including Ebola and Zika, emerge
more indirectly but decisively out of neoliberal agroeconomics.

Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist presently visiting the University
of Minnesota’s Institute for Global Studies. His research has addressed the
evolution and spread of influenza as it relates to the economics of
agriculture, the social geography of HIV/AIDS in New York City, the
emergence of Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus out of Ugandan prehistory, the
agroeconomics of Ebola, and the evolution of infection life history in
response to antivirals. Wallace is co-author of Farming Human Pathogens:
Ecological Resilience and Evolutionary Process (Springer) and the newly
published Big Farms Make Big Flu (Monthly Review Press). He has consulted
on influenza for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you’ve missed the wit and brilliance of Stephen Jay Gould, here’s a
consolation: holistic, radical science from the frontlines of the battle
against emergent diseases. Using the wide-angle lens of political ecology,
Rob Wallace demonstrates the central roles of the factory-farming and
fast-food industries in the evolution of avian flu and other pandemics that
threaten the entire planet. Bravo to MR Press for publishing this landmark
collection of essays.”
—Mike Davis, author, Monster at Our Door and Planet of Slums

“These essays put you in the company of a delightful mind. Wallace is
filled with curiosity, deep learning, and robust skepticism. In his
company, you’ll learn about phylogeography, clades and imperial epizoology.
He can also weave a mean story, with the kinds of big picture analysis that
puts him alongside minds like Mike Davis’s. Who else can link the end of
British colonial rule in China or the devaluation of the Thai Baht to the
spread of bird flu? This collection is a bracing innoculant against the
misinformation that will be spewed in the next epidemic by the private
sector, government agencies and philanthropists. My copy is highlighted on
almost every page. Yours will be too.”
—Raj Patel, author, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World
Food System

“In Big Farms Make Big Flu, Rob Wallace stands boldly on the shoulders of
giants in clearly expressing the problems with our agroindustrial system
that so many already see but far too few are willing to say. With mordant
wit and a keen literary sensibility, Wallace follows the story of this
dysfunctional—and dangerous—system wherever it may lead, without regard to
petty concerns of discipline or the determined ignorance of the
commentariat and mainstream research institutions. Big Farms Make Big Flu
shows the power, possibility, and indeed, absolute necessity of political
ecology, lest we not only fail to properly understand the world, but fail
to change it.”
–M. Jahi Chappell, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist, Institute for Agriculture
and Trade Policy (IATP)


More information about the Act-MA mailing list