November 1 2006
I sent these two emails to 'Farming Today' this morning. I doubt if
they will provoke any response!
This morning's programme included a long report about surveillance of
migratory birds to prevent bird flu. This, as your previous reports,
fosters the impression that the danger of bird flu comes from migratory
birds and is associated with wild birds and backyard flocks.
This is seriously misleading. It is far more likely that the dangerous
form of bird flu is associated with intensive poultry keeping; and the
danger comes from factory farming practices. The spread in wild birds
comes mainly from water fowl that have been infected when stealing food
made from the waste of industrial poultry units from fish farms. The
virulent form of the flu kills the infected bird rapidly and the
infection dies out in the wild. The real danger is not from these
unfortunate victims but from the distribution of factory farmed poultry
and the conditions in which the birds are kept.
Why do you not at least give this far more credible interpretation of
the facts more publicity? Instead you fall in with the wishes of the
industrial farming and pharmaceuticals' interests and prevent debate on
the real source of danger.
Note that in Asia, including India, the large scale intensive poultry
producers can restrict health inspections of their premises - while the
authorities can get access to the small scale backyard enterprises and
kill their birds. One can't help noticing that the killing of the local
small scale poultry keepers' birds must increase the potential markets
for the industrial producers.
Middle Campscott Farm
In the 'World at One' interview with Paul Cheale, one of the directors
of Cheale Meats, he said:
"The first reaction should have been to send a vet to the area from
which the farm, the pigs came and examine the rest of the stock.
That could have been done within hours.
And if he'd arrived at the farm and looked at the stock and saw no
incidence of foot and mouth then you can bet your bottom dollar that
there is absolutely nothing there.
As far as I'm aware, this did not happen."
This seems rather important to me. Imposing movement restrictions on
the abattoir would have been of little importance: none of the animals
there would be going anywhere else - and even the meats etc. would not
be going anywhere likely to spread disease in the immediate future. But
if FMD had been present on the farm which sent the pigs, the danger
would have been extreme. Does Farming Today know whether Defra sent a
vet to the source farm - and if movement restrictions were imposed on
it? If these elementary precautions were not taken, it seems that a
repetition of the disastrous chain of events in 2001 were prevented by
the luck that it was a false alarm.
Can the Farming Today team shed any light on this, rather important
Middle Campscott Farm
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