Monday, November 17, 2014

Danger! Bird Flu H5N8 at Dutch Chicken Egg Factory Farm

The highly contagious H5N8 Bird Influenza has been found at a chicken egg factory farm near Henkendorp, Holland.

Dutch authorities have quarantined a 10 km radius; nothing chicken related allowed to come in, or go out.  They know this could be serious.

How do we know it's a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)?  Dutch authorities will soon be slaughtering 150,000 chickens who reside at that farm for egg production.

Realize that these 150,000 bird likely have all the same genetics, so they are similar to being genetic clones of each other.  Usually, factory chicken have the same parents, same grandparents, and same great grandparents.  They are all hatched the same, fed the same, and treated the same.  In other words, there is no difference between any of these birds.  That's how CAFO operations work.  The birds all grow at the same rate, and produce the same size eggs, at the same rate, with no variability.

As long as everything goes perfectly, you maximize profits.

If something goes wrong, it quickly becomes a total disaster.

DW reports:
"The various strains of bird flu regularly cause panic - which is perhaps justified because the [human] mortality rate is 70 percent."
These viruses are constantly mutating.  Some, like H5N1 and H5N8 are not easily spread to humans.  Other H5 virus strains, including all future strains, have the potential to be transmitted much more easily to humans.  When that happens, avian flu will quickly become far worse than Ebola.

The longer we delay solving the CAFO issues, the more virus mutations that occur, and the higher the risk that the transmission to humans goes exponential.  Sooner or later, we will wish we had reacted sooner.

Likely, the CAFO factory farmer will be financially compensated by the Dutch government.  In that way, that CAFO farmer (and all other factory farmers just like him)  is encouraged to do the same risky behaviour all over again.

The factory farmer gets the huge profits when everything goes right.  The public picks up the tab when things go bad.  The public is exposed to the significant risk of disease outbreak or financial insurance and moral hazard that supports and encourages this risky behaviour.

Canada's chicken factory farms are up to the same tricks too.  It is only a matter of time before this same or similar risk hits Canada once again. In 2004, avian flu resulted in the destruction of 17 million chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese in Canada.  The House of Commons  Agriculture Committee eventually got involved with the botched handling of that outbreak by the powerful Supply Management lobby and their friends at CFIA.

Again in 2009, H5 strain of bird flu struck at Abbotsford BC at a chicken CAFO with 50,000 birds initially.  The cull eventually spread like wildfire as CFIA tried to contain the outbreak.

The CAFO system is flawed.  The sooner Supply Management admits it, the sooner we can move forward to something that is safer and better for all. 

There 'aughta be a law.

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