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Letter: Smithfield confuses environmental stewardship with environmental justice

letter to the editor

While I respect the efforts of a well known pork industry player to support the industry that provides his salary, communities of color are suffering throughout North Carolina as a direct result of Smithfield’s harmful agricultural practices.

Smithfield maintains open vats of animal waste in their hog production facilities across the state of North Carolina and has been investigated by the EPA. Extensive research has documented the health effects of animal feces on humans. From my point of view, there is no question that Smithfield’s practices have the potential to cause extreme damage to local communities.

Regardless of Smithfield’s cited improvements in resource management, more pork products directly translate into more waste in these vats and higher possibilities of disease within the surrounding marginalized communities. For an American company that claims to care about American citizens, Smithfield’s actions in North Carolina scream the contrary.

As for the claims of biased research against the hog industry, how strange it is to see this argument from a corporate actor whose place of employment has a history of financially persuading the votes of North Carolina’s politicians.

Fortunately for Smithfield, HB 467 has effectively prohibited communities from pursuing financial compensation for inevitable damages to their health and wellness. The passage of this bill in spite of Governor Cooper’s veto is evidence enough of Smithfield’s manipulation of North Carolina politics.

By accepting money from Smithfield, Duke Athletics is complicit in environmental justice violations across our state. I am thankful to be in a place of privilege to speak out against the hog industry, even though Smithfield’s voices and their money are louder in government than those of the communities they destroy. I will never attend a Duke basketball game as long as Smithfield donates to Duke Athletics and encourage other students to consider their commitments.

Michelle Carter is a graduate student in the Nicholas School. 


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