Animal Aid

Avian flu - Defra must resist hysteria-led bird massacre

Posted 6 April 2006

With the arrival of the deadly strain of bird flu in Scotland, Animal Aid fears an outbreak of panic that will lead to a government-orchestrated slaughter of 'every winged creature'. The national campaign group calls for the maximum consideration for animal welfare to be applied to all measures designed to tackle the disease.

Within DEFRA Control and Surveillance zones, says Animal Aid, it is essential that the lives of ducks, geese, swans, pigeons and other birds are not taken merely to demonstrate that the government is 'doing something'. The truly large-scale slaughter - if it comes - will take place far away from the public gaze inside commercial poultry sheds. The national organisation says that any killing exercise must not repeat the incompetence and callousness seen during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic. Under routine circumstances, these birds already suffer grievously as a result of being reared and killed as though they were inanimate objects. It is therefore essential that their suffering is not increased during any disease 'eradication' exercise.

The best available evidence points to the H5N1 strain of avian flu being caused and spread by the intensive poultry industry. Yet the global poultry industry has succeeded in diverting blame for the disease outbreak onto wild birds.

Countries that have not yet developed a large-scale intensive poultry industry have been largely spared. Despite poultry sheds being nominally sealed off from the outside world, there are numerous ways for diseased material to be taken into them. An expert in the field, Dr Mohammad Yousaf*, has indicated that H5N1 can enter by way of faecal traces or moisture in the air - through the medium of feed, water, supplies, cages, clothes, delivery vehicles, mammals and even insects.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

'Broiler sheds are perfect breeding grounds for new and deadly viruses and there are any number of ways that they can spread across countries and continents. Cooked chicken might be purged of viruses but how safe are the bodies of dead birds - fresh from supermarket chillers - that reside in millions of fridges around the country? Animal Aid calls for a boycott of all chicken products as a means of waking up the government, the industry and the consumer to the vile and deadly nature of intensive poultry production.'

*Avian influenza outbreak hits the industry again, Dr Mohammad Yousaf, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, World Poultry, Vol 20 No 3 2004.*Avian influenza outbreak hits the industry again, Dr Mohammad Yousaf, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, World Poultry, Vol 20 No 3 2004.

Notes to Editors

  • For more information, contact Andrew at 01732 364546
  • See our report on the use of animals in toxicity testing, Lethal Business
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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