Bird Flu and Industrial Agriculture

While I have not seen this new documentary, Shall We Gather at the River, its website contains three provocative interview clips with Michael Greger M.D., the U.S. Humane Society’s Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture. In these excerpts Dr. Greger asserts that industrial agriculture’s penchant for cramming thousands of animals into sheds is the most likely vector for a host of scary diseases such as bird flu and mad cow disease.

Keeping chickens in our backyard has brought home the debate on biosecurity and bird flu. There’s considerable dispute about how these viruses spread, with the industry trying to make the case that wild birds and backyard poultry keepers such as ourselves are a greater threat. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks (pdf) lends credence to Dr. Greger’s assertion that the hazard of a bird flu outbreak comes not just from backyard flocks but from large scale livestock operations. It seems logical: pack thousands of immunosupressed birds in a shed and spew their waste into the air and waterways and you’re asking for trouble.

And f.y.i. our sickened hen (not by influenza) seems to be on the mend and will hopefully rejoin the flock soon.

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  1. Glad to hear your hen is doing better. I just got my first two hens a week ago Friday. 4 eggs and counting! The lady said one was laying now and the other will start in about a month or so when she gets a wee bit older. Anyhow, got your book and love it.. thank you for your efforts.

  2. hi, we met at bea in la this year, briefly, and i’ve been reading your blog for a long time. i’m grateful for a lot of the information you share, and love the book. i do believe we’re comrades!

    alas, i’m also an animal rights activist, and work at the publisher who produced dr. greger’s book, bird flu. I posted about you, your book, greger, and chickens over at the lantern books blog:

    i hope you see it as conversational, since i’m certainly not trying to question all your fantastic efforts. and, i will send you Greger’s book!


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