Avian Flu

Avian Flu - Pandemic, or mostly Panic?

Media reports have suggested that the avian flu outbreaks in Asia could lead to a world-wide pandemic similar to the one of 1918. Is the fear being generated by these reports justified? Are there interests other than public health driving the policies addressing avian flu?

  • The international civil society organization GRAIN has written and compiled a series of publications that critically analyse the links between corporate agribusiness, avian flu and governments’ responses to the disease.
  • Control Bird Flu by Controlling Intensive Poultry Operations.
    Prevention of a world-wide flu pandemic that could kill millions is certainly a worthy cause. Beyond Factory Farming’s Fact Sheet poses the question - will outlawing outdoor poultry production save us from an AI pandemic~~ or will it actually increase the risk of the disease?
  • Wrong and Dangerous to Blame Wild Birds. Vested interests are erroneously blaming wild birds for the spread of avian flu, according to Dr Leon Bennun in this BBC op-ed titled “Green Room”. Responsibility for avian flu really lies with modern farming. Demands for culling wild birds and the destruction of their nesting sites threaten to bring rare species to extinction, but will do nothing to halt the disease.
  • To prevent bird flu, let nature take its course. Op-ed by Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society and a member of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals. “The inexorable increase in avian influenza hysteria is leading governments locally and internationally to consider increasingly radical measures to contain the perceived threat of a human pandemic.”
  • Bird Flu: A Virus of our Own Hatching by Michael Greger, MD. This book, available as a free download, is an excellent primer on how diseases evolve in the factory farm environment. "In a sense, pandemics aren't born—they're made. H5N1 may be a virus of our own hatching coming home to roost. According to a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, "The bottom line is that humans have to think about how they treat their animals, how they farm them, and how they market them—basically the whole relationship between the animal kingdom and the human kingdom is coming under stress." Along with human culpability, though, comes hope. If changes in human behavior can cause new plagues, changes in human behavior may prevent them in the future."
Avian_Flu_Fact_Sheet.pdf64.99 KB
Op-Ed_Debra_Probert.pdf79.83 KB