Filed Under: Food Scares

Bird-Brained About Bird Flu

Britain had its first outbreak of bird flu last week, and — like clockwork — stateside activists are taking the opportunity to warn us all of the dangers of modern poultry production. At the forefront of the fear-mongering has been the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which claimed in a February 3 press release that the "unhygienic conditions" in modern poultry farms are responsible for "facilitating the emergence of highly pathogenic avian flu viruses." And PETA’s UK arm is busy dressing up its members in biohazard suits and dispersing them throughout London to scare people into becoming vegetarians.As we’ve told you before, activist talking points on poultry are paltry. The British virus looks to have been brought into the country by migratory — not "confined" — birds. The "close conditions" so readily deplored by the likes of HSUS are the very thing that allowed British officials to contain the outbreak so quickly. And the "free range" birds that activists urge us to buy instead are more vulnerable to wild-bird "carriers" than their housed counterparts.Moreover, it bears repeating that an outbreak of avian flu among birds isn’t a sign that it can jump species — which would need to happen before people would be in any danger.For more, check out this outstanding piece on bird flu in the December 25, 2006 Weekly Standard.

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