According to a study by the international non-governmental organization GRAIN the avian influenza is spread mainly by the global poultry trade, and not as thought by migratory birds or free-range poultry operations. They felt that confined factory farm production contributed to its mutation into its current deadly form. The organization studied the patterns of the disease over time and found that they were relation between the outbreaks and the integrated trade networks involving poultry, eggs, meat, feathers, manure and animal feed.
In an article the GRAIN suggests that maybe the migrating swallows and arctic terns are not carrying the H5N1 flu virus after all but the large and unregulated agribusiness could be to blame. That the disease rarely occurs in small family flocks but rather mostly in farm factories where thousands of chickens are raised, under unsanitary and debilitating conditions that make them all a prey for the virus.
AdvertisementGRAIN also points out that a standard ingredients in industrial chicken and animal feeds, is poultry litter, which includes fecal matter, feathers etc. According to WHO bird flu can survive in bird feces for up to 35 days and, in a recent update, it mentions feed as a possible medium for the spread of bird flu between farms. In Russia authorities identified feed as one of the main sources of an H5N1 outbreak at a large-scale factory farm in Kurgan province, where 460,000 birds were killed. They felt that still little was being done to regulate and strengthen regulations.
They go on to say that it often seems that the industry, not governments, who are more powerful and influential. As they seem to have latched on to a business of making money by getting people sick by selling them bad food and make more money selling them remedies for what has happened to them. GRAIN also claims to have found that Donald Rumsfeld is a major stockholder in Gilead Sciences, which licenses Tamiflu. They claim that even if Tamiflu is of any use to avian flu sufferers or not, it is of great profitability to the secretary of defense, since Gilead is expected to make $118 million from Tamiflu sales this year.
Meanwhile in Greece in Halkida, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Athens, a poultry festival was held was organized by a professional growers association (Edop) as part of a new campaign. Its goal was to educate the consumer who enjoyed a feast of chicken at the event, said Edop President Dimitrios Leivaditis. This was to help the sales of chicken that had fallen by about 75% from the beginning of the month though no cases have been reported.
In Pakistan the Poultry Association of Pakistan has urged Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to announce a relief package for the poultry industry. The industry is already facing a crisis due to the ongoing ban serving at weddings and a further blow with rumors of bird flu running amok. The association is pleading with the government to lift the ban on wedding meal as the step would not only encourage consumption of chicken in the country, but would also help millions of people get their jobs back.