Animal Aid

Animal Welfare Abuses to blame for Bird Flu

Posted 19 October 2005
Battery Hen

With the threat of a global pandemic of avian - or bird - flu dominating the headlines, concern centres on its risk to human beings. Clearly this is of paramount importance, but it is about time we focused on the suffering of millions of avian victims who are being slaughtered in attempt to stop the spread. Coverage of the mass precautionary culling taking place throughout Asia and latterly, Turkey, Greece and Romania, never mentions the welfare of the birds, who are being killed in the most brutal ways. Nor the fact that it is the intensive systems in which they are kept that are to blame for this latest disease outbreak.

Wild, migratory birds are accused of being carriers of the disease, yet history tells us - as with bovine TB, foot and mouth, BSE, E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and pig wasting disease etc - that factory farming is the root of the problem. Modern, intensive farming conditions are so unnatural and inhumane that diseases run rife in the crowded, windowless sheds. Farmed animals are treated as expendable units of production by an industry whose sole focus is maximum production for minimum expense. The animals' health is compromised to such a degree that a complete breakdown of resistance results. The terrible conditions, combined with farmed animals living in close proximity to humans - as in Asia - has caused this recent outbreak.

If we continue to treat animals in this way and exploit them past their physiological limits to cope, then we will be forced to live with the consequences.

So far, more than 35 million birds have been slaughtered with a total disregard for their suffering. Country to country, chicks and adult birds are being stuffed en masse into garbage bins and sacks in which they are crushed and suffocate. Others are burned alive. And let's not pretend that such rampant cruelty only happens in other countries. During the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, the mass slaughter of sheep, cattle and pigs was distressing, crude and heartless.

If people are concerned about the implications to human health, or are upset by the death scenes on TV, then they must take responsibility for their actions. Stop eating animals and be part of solution rather than the problem.

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