Lawyers for Smithfield Foods Inc. have asked a court to scrub all references to China and Chinese from lawsuits filed by neighbours who object to odours and flies from its hog farms.
More than 500 neighbours in North Carolina are involved in the lawsuits against Murphy-Brown, a company that Smithfield bought in 2000 before it was itself bought by WH Group of China in 2013.
The complaining neighbours fear that matters will get worse now that WH Group owns Smithfield because it will increase production to ship more pork to China.
Lawyers for Murphy-Brown argue in court documents that litigation over the stink of industrial-scale growing operations should be scrubbed of references to "the Chinese government, Chinese corporations, and Chinese demand for and purchases of pork."
The references are "scandalous and clearly designed to inflame the jury and the public while taking advantage of xenophobic biases in today's political landscape," the company's lawyers said, adding the lawsuits are a "platform for negative publicity ... that will harm Murphy-Brown's reputation."