"Most suffering today, whether of animals or humans, suffering beyond calculation . . . is at the hands of other humans."
– Roberta Kalechofsky, Animal Suffering and the Holocaust
If there is any doubt that the human species has violated the privilege of sharing the earth with the other creatures, the spread and handling of avian influenza dispels it. People ask, what can we do? The answer is, we can stop eating birds and their eggs and we can try to help as many birds as we can.
The poultry industry blames raising chickens outdoors, bringing them into contact with the droppings of migrating waterfowl who carry the virus (of which there are thousands of subtypes) without normally getting sick, although wild waterfowl are now getting sick and dying from contact with domestic fowl, according to University of Hong Kong virologist Guan Yi, as reported by Reuters, 11/08/05.
Contradicting the poultry industry, Dr. Perry Kendall, chief medical officer of health for British Columbia, said British Columbia’s outbreak in 2004 showed chickens kept indoors were more vulnerable than those kept outside: "The intensely farmed birds tend to be very genetically similar," he said. "The methods of farming result in them being actually more frail and more vulnerable to diseases, particularly since there are so many of them in such a small volume of space" (Canadian Press, Aug. 24, 2005).
Factory farmed birds are isolated from virtually all human contact. In Asia by contrast, waterfowl, pigs, chickens and humans have jostled together for millennia, and still do, although western-style factory farming is becoming a rival factor in Asia. In the southern province of Guangdong, considered the birthplace of the flu, large human and nonhuman animal populations "have lived almost as close together as most Western families for thousands of years," notes the November issue of Vanity Fair. The manager of a large-scale chicken operation in Guangdong said unlike the Americans and Europeans, people in China don’t panic, because Chinese people have always lived with chickens and regard avian flu outbreaks as normal.
Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, discourages faith in vaccines. In a recent E Magazine interview she said the only diseases we can hope to eradicate "are ones that are present only in humans and are not found in animals." As long as people persist in being "the final end point on a long food chain of animals," the avian flu virus will mutate to "orders of magnitude more difficult to deal with," Garrett said. (See www.upc-online.org/health/).
Observing that avian flu is "an infection of birds that can be transmitted from very sick birds to humans who handle or eat them," Daniel Hollander MD, Professor of Medicine at UCLA, agrees the vaccines are a scam. "There is no effective vaccine against bird flu," he told the Los Angeles Times on November 7. "Tamiflu is a drug of no proven value in bird flu," he said.
Notwithstanding, Fortune magazine reported on October 31 that Tamiflu is the most sought after drug in the world and that avian flu is "very good news" for investors (like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) in the California biotechnology company Gilead Sciences, which owns the rights to Tamiflu, which is manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche.
For vested interests, avian flu is a bonanza. In July the U.S. poultry and egg industries drew up a plan authorizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to "pay for 100 percent of the cost of purchase, destruction, [and] disposal of poultry infected with or exposed to H5/H7" viruses (PoultryUSA, July 2005). That is, taxpayers foot the bill and the industries reap the benefits.
Whether a human pandemic is imminent, the fate of birds is definite as long as people continue to eat birds and their eggs. Birds face endless brutal exterminations that could drive some species to extinction, intensified industrialized confinement, and manipulation to try to produce "genetically modified chickens that can resist lethal strains of the virus" (Timesonline.co.uk, Oct. 29, 2005).
What Can I Do?
- If you haven’t yet made the switch, please make being vegan your Number One New Year’s Resolution – and get a friend, family member, colleague, battalion to join you. Not only poultry flesh but eggs carry the risk of avian flu viruses in the albumen and yolk as well as on the shell, according to Australia’s veterinary emergency plan as reported by Reuters (11/08/05). Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless "Poultry" Potpourri is a great way to start cooking right. $14.95 includes shipping. Order by check or money order, or go to our website to purchase by credit card.
- In May, United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights sent a letter to every state veterinarian in the U.S. urging the least cruel methods of extermination of birds the industries are bent on destroying (www.upc-online.org/slaughter/). Please urge the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to use its influence with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) to prevent birds from being drowned, burned, suffocated and buried alive. Urge the AVMA to encourage the use of the inert gases nitrogen and argon instead of carbon dioxide (CO2) or electricity. According to animal welfare scientists, inert gases are the least inhumane methods of mass-killing birds.
Dr. Henry E. Childers
American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: 847-925-8070. Fax: 847-925-1329
Website: www.avma.org (you can post an email at Contact Us)
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150