A group of 500 residents of Duplin County, NC—the second-largest pork producing state in the US—filed a lawsuit against Smithfield Farms, claiming cesspools of pig feces and urine have devalued their properties and disrupted their lives. Despite the operation’s promise to upgrade waste management in 2000, the company still allows untreated pig waste to collect in putrid open-air lagoons. According to estimates by nonprofit organization Food and Waste Watch, in 2007, the 2.3 million hogs raised in Duplin County produced twice as much waste as all of New York City. About a quarter of Duplin residents live below the poverty line and pigs outnumber the human population 32 to 1. Aside from the rancid smell that continuously emanates from the cesspools, studies have shown that such concentrated exposure to toxic pig fecal matter can lead to hepatitis, typhoid, dysentery, impaired memory, higher infant mortality rates, higher asthma rates, nausea, and high blood pressure. Smithfield operates the world’s largest pork-processing plant in nearby Tar Heel, NC and has a company slogan of “Good food. Responsibly.”
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