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Avian influenza

Keith Parkins | 09.02.2007 16:36 | Animal Liberation | Ecology | Health

Slowly, slowly the true story is emerging.

At the beginning of the outbreak, the entire focus was on protecting the poultry industry, concern that poultry sales would fall in supermarkets, not on public health. We were told that there was no risk to human health, that the likely cause was a wild bird.

In other words, deflect the focus of attention away from the disgusting conditions in which the birds are reared and keep on buying.

We are assured that avian flu can pass from bird to human, but not then from human to human.

As the week has progressed, the story has changed.

The dead birds have been transferred halfway across the country to be rendered and incinerated. Was this necessary? Could the dead birds not have been destroyed locally?

At the time of the foot and mouth outbreak, carcases wee being transported halfway across the country. Blood and animal fluids were leaking from the lorries, spreading disease in their wake.

We were told the outbreak was caused by wild birds.

We then learnt the outbreak in Suffolk was an identical strain to that in Hungary, ruling out wild birds.

We then learn that the farm in Suffolk was importing partially processed poultry from Hungary.

This revelation raises many questions. Was processed poultry being fed to the birds? Has nothing been learnt from BSE (mad cow's disease), spread by feeding animal remains to cows? We had previously been told that avian flu is a respiratory disease, that it cannot be spread by eating contaminated meat.

Rather late in the day, the government is now considering pulling all poultry off the supermarket shelves.

We are told the poultry industry has high standards. Try telling that to the birds who are packed by their thousands into darkened sheds, who have ammonia burns on their feet through standing in their own shit. Try telling that to the thousands of people who fall ill every year from food poisoning through eating contaminated poultry.

Over 50% of poultry on supermarket shelves is contaminated with salmonella or other infections.

Ready-cooked chickens in the local supermarket at 2-99 each or two for a fiver, come at a price. That price is in animal welfare and human health.

Poultry and live birds are still being shipped around the country and into and out of the country. There should be an immediate halt to shipments around the UK and into and out of the UK. Countries, such as the Czech Republic, which border onto Hungary, should seal their borders against imports from Hungary.

We have seen a whole series of food scares: salmonella in eggs, BSE, foot and mouth, illegal food dye Sudan 1, avian flu.

The root cause of all these problems is industrial food processing, industrial farming. The quest for cheap food, with scant regard for animal welfare, human health or the environment.


Joanna Blythman, Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets, Fourth Estate, 2004

Joanna Blythman, Bad Food Britain, Fourth Estate, 2006

Benedict Brogan and Sean Poulter

Hungary import 'link' to bird flu, BBC News on-line, 8 February 2007

Andrew Kimbrell (ed), Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, Island Press, 2002

Felicity Lawrence, Fowl play, The Guardian, 8 July 2002,2763,751244,00.html

Felicity Lawrence, Not on the Label: What Really Goes Into the Food on Your Plate, Penguin, 2004

Keith Parkins, Genetic Engineering - Paradise on Earth or a Descent into Hell?, September 1999

Keith Parkins, Biopiracy and Intellectual Property Rights, December 1999

Keith Parkins, Sowing Seeds of Dissent, Indymedia UK, 6 September 2004

Keith Parkins, Seeds of Dissent, September 2004

Keith Parkins, MP promotes junk food, Indymedia UK, 17 January 2007

Keith Parkins, MP yet again pictured promoting McDonald's, 19 January 2007

Keith Parkins, Bad Food Britain, to be published

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, Penguin/Allen Lane, 2001

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, The Ecologist, April 2004

Super Size Me! {DVD}

Turkey meat examined for bird flu, BBC News on-line, 9 February 2007

Keith Parkins
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Hide the following 5 comments

not interested

09.02.2007 17:16

More people are dying for common cold, never mention influenza, than for this bird flu pandemic. If you really interested in illnesses, cancer kills millions: according the the World Health Organisation, over 98% of caseas have environmental causes - eg being bombarded with all sorts of toxic chemicals. Why don't we busy thinking about that rather than this bird flu scare.
I personally more concerned about people dying of stravation, war etc and have no time for lesser nonsense.


That's not helpful Candy

09.02.2007 20:18

As a health worker who has been working in tropical and infectious diseases, I can understand the panic over avian flu.
Some of my colleagues whose opinion I respect have predicted that if there is a serious avian flu outbreak 1 in 7 could die as a result. Health services in this country are a lot shitter than it makes out.
Candy you may think well perhaps that's a good thing (and I must admit in my darkest hours I feel the same).
However, who do you think it's going to affect? The rich? No siree. There is still poverty in this country and I think you'll find it will be this group as well as health workers who suffer.
Also you think it's going to stay in this country? You don't think that like HIV/AIDs it began in Western countries and migrated across the world and its 98% of the world that can't afford the treatments for it because of pharmaceutical arseholes.
And if you're not interested don't comment. Its really not helpful.

health worker

Candy likes eating Birds

09.02.2007 23:58

Well? Don't you?

5T3P D0uuN

animal products

10.02.2007 17:46

Health worker, don’t you think its time we gave up animal products after all the health crises we have had from them? And this one sounds like it could be a lot worse than the others!

People can help simply by not eating any (or as much) animal products!


Veganic jihad

11.02.2007 10:58

I totally agree. We need to stop fucking with the food chain. I'm vegan.

Health worker