Click here to read more from Slate on the swine flu.
Global anxiety over the swine flu epidemic swelled over the weekend, with 40 cases of the flu confirmed in the United States alone. In response, a handful of countries announced a ban on pork imports from Mexico and parts of the United States. Why are countries banning pork imports?
To quell public fears—and maybe to help their bottom lines. World Health Organization officials have emphasized that you can't get swine flu from properly cooked pork, and they haven't recommended any bans on the meat. When the secretary of agriculture for the Philippines announced a ban on Saturday, he explained it was merely a "precautionary measure" and noted the lack of evidence for a link between pork consumption and the flu strain.
Some of the countries that announced bans might be particularly sensitive to the possibility of pork-related hysteria. The Chinese and the Russians, for instance, are among the world's top importers of pork. (More than half of the meat consumed in China is pork.) They might also have their own economic interests at heart: Russia's government in particular has been increasingly hostile toward imported meat in recent years, increasing tariff duties, instituting import quotas, and dramatically increasing safety requirements. Representatives of the American pork and meat industries have accused some foreign governments of willfully ignoring scientific facts in order to advance protectionist agendas.
Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.