There's nothing like taking advantage of a bad situation. That's exactly what several countries around the world are doing in trying to confuse the fear over swine flu with consumption of pork products.
First off, it's false. Health experts have tried to make it clear that you don't catch flu, a respiratory illness, from eating a certain food, no matter what it's called. It's from contracting the virus through physical contact with an infected person, or the virus being propelled by sneeze or cough.
Yet pork producers in various parts of the world, already struggling with a number of business challenges, are now finding themselves fending off these groundless fears.
This is similar to advice that, decades ago, suggested people could get venereal disease from a toilet seat.
Such nonsensical information distributed via the Internet is one thing - and a nuisance in itself. But some nations are taking advantage of the common name of this flu to bar importation of pork products from a number of countries.
Shortly after the outbreak was publicized, U.S. officials rushed to assure people that it's impossible to get pig strains of influenza from food. But by last weekend, China, Russia and Ukraine were banning imports of pork from Mexico and certain U.S. states, and other governments were increasing screening of pork imports.
In the face of scientific certainty, how does a country get away with such trade restrictions? - not with a straight face.
We can expect the pork lobby in those countries and easily persuaded government officials to be behind the fiasco. We saw similar roadblocks thrown up by U.S. cattlemen several years ago to Canadian beef products after the discovery of BSE in a couple of animals in Canada.
Government officials in the affected countries already have plenty on their plates, but this can't go unchallenged. The correct information is verifiable. Don't let the governments issuing the ban capitalize on playing stupid.