The truth about Bird Flu


Richard Moore

See also:

From: "Westaway" <•••@••.•••>
To: "Westaway" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Bird Flu - Framing the innocent to protect the real culprits
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 18:32:32 -0800

from an email correspondent


A new and extremely important report has come out today from
GRAIN, about the mistaken policy analysis and debate
surrounding the current Bird Flu crisis.

While panic in the media and at government levels is focused
on the threat from migratory birds and small-scale
free-range poultry operations, the real reason for the
development and spread of the disease has been quietly

The GRAIN report shows that emergence of bird flu follows
the global poultry industry's movements - and NOT migratory
bird movements.  The large-scale, confined, and frankly
disgusting, factory farming conditions that characterise the
global poultry industry are likely to be the real cause of
the mutation of bird flu into its deadly form.  The
widespread movements of the industry's chickens and hatching
eggs, are likely to be the cause of its spread.


1. Report Says Global Poultry Industry is the Root of the
Bird Flu Crisis

Press Release from GRAIN. Date: 27 February 2006

Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being
unfairly blamed for the bird flu crisis now affecting large
parts of the world.  A new report from GRAIN shows how the
transnational poultry industry is the root of the problem
and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus.[1]

The spread of industrial poultry production and trade
networks has created ideal conditions for the emergence and
transmission of lethal viruses like the H5N1 strain of bird
flu.  Once inside densely populated factory farms, viruses
can rapidly become lethal and amplify.  Air thick with viral
load from infected farms is carried for kilometres, while
integrated trade networks spread the disease through many
carriers: live birds, day-old-chicks, meat, feathers,
hatching eggs, eggs, chicken manure and animal feed.[2]

"Everyone is focused on migratory birds and backyard
chickens as the problem," says Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN.  "But
they are not effective vectors of highly pathogenic bird
flu.  The virus kills them, but is unlikely to be spread by

For example, in Malaysia, the mortality rate from H5N1 among
village chicken is only 5%, indicating that the virus has a
hard time spreading among small scale chicken flocks.  H5N1
outbreaks in Laos, which is surrounded by infected
countries, have only occurred in the nation's few factory
farms, which are supplied by Thai hatcheries.  The only
cases of bird flu in backyard poultry, which account for
over 90% of Laos' production, occurred next to the factory

"The evidence we see over and over again, from the
Netherlands in 2003 to Japan in 2004 to Egypt in 2006, is
that lethal bird flu breaks out in large scale industrial
chicken farms and then spreads," Kuyek explains.

The Nigerian outbreak earlier this year began at a single
factory farm, owned by a Cabinet minister, distant from
hotspots for migratory birds but known for importing
unregulated hatchable eggs.  In India, local authorities say
that H5N1 emerged and spread from a factory farm owned by
the country's largest poultry company, Venkateshwara

(Why the SILENCE?)

A burning question is why governments and international
agencies, like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, are
doing nothing to investigate how the factory farms and their
byproducts, such as animal feed and manure, spread the
virus.  Instead, they are using the crisis as an opportunity
to further industrialise the poultry sector.  Initiatives
are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small
producers and restock farms with genetically-modified
chickens.  The web of complicity with an industry engaged in
a string of denials and cover-ups seems complete.

"Farmers are losing their livelihoods, native chickens are
being wiped out and some experts say that we're on the verge
of a human pandemic that could kill millions of people,"
Kuyek concludes.  "When will governments realise that to
protect poultry and people from bird flu, we need to protect
them from the global poultry industry?"

[1] The full briefing, "Fowl play: The poultry industry's
central role in the bird flu crisis", is available at
<> . Spanish and
French translations will be posted shortly.

[2] Chicken faeces and bedding from poultry factory floors
are common ingredients in animal feed.

GRAIN is an international non-governmental organisation
(NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of
agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over
genetic resources and local knowledge.

Devlin Kuyek, GRAIN, in Montreal
Tel: +1 514 2737314
Email:  <mailto:•••@••.•••>•••@••.•••
Website:  <>


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