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Possible Conflict of Interest as Blue Cross Blue Shield Cancels Screening of Documentary Linking NC Hog Farms to Health Problems

Source: NC Newsline

North Carolina’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross BlueShield, abruptly canceled a planned screening of “The Smell of Money,” a documentary that explores the health risks associated with industrial hog farming in the state.

The film details the experiences of residents living near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), highlighting respiratory problems, water contamination, and a decline in overall health.  Many residents featured in the documentary have successfully sued hog farming companies, citing health issues caused by living in close proximity to the facilities.

According to the film’s producer, Blue Cross initially expressed interest in screening the documentary for its employees during National Minority Health Month and Earth Month. However, the screening was canceled just weeks before it was scheduled to take place.

Blue Cross claims the decision was unrelated to the documentary’s content and stemmed from concerns about employees watching the film during work hours. However, emails obtained by Inside Climate News suggest the company’s relationship with the North Carolina Farm Bureau, a powerful agricultural lobbying group, may have played a role.

The Farm Bureau has a history of opposing regulations on hog farming and has lobbied against legislation allowing lawsuits based on nuisance caused by CAFOs.  Interestingly, a former president of the Farm Bureau currently sits on the board of directors for Blue Cross Blue Shield. Additionally, Blue Cross recently announced a partnership with the Farm Bureau’s insurance company.

While Blue Cross denies any communication with the Farm Bureau regarding the documentary screening, the timing and the close ties between the two organizations raise questions about the true motivation behind the cancellation.

The incident highlights the potential conflict of interest between public health concerns and the economic influence of powerful industries. With millions of North Carolinians living near hog farms and studies suggesting potential health risks, the issue of industrial agriculture’s impact on communities deserves open discussion.

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