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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 14 April 2006 Issue

DawnWatch: Avian flu and factory farming conditions in Independent, Dayton Daily News and Buffalo News 4/8- 4/10/06 

The Saturday, April 8, Independent (London) included an article headed, "BIRD FLU: Factory farms in Asia blamed for pandemic." (Pg 4.)

Other local articles, cited below, "compliment" that article. One is a Monday, April 10, front page story in Ohio's Dayton Daily News headed "Ohio poultry farms build flu defense" and one is a report in Sunday's April 9 Buffalo news headed, "Controversy hatching over Wegmans' egg farm." (NBC's Dateline is scheduled to cover that story this weekend.)

The Independent article opens:

"The insatiable demand for cheap food, the global poultry industry and the giant factory farms of south-east Asia have been blamed for spreading avian flu around the world.

"A new analysis of the pandemic has sought to shift the emphasis for international action to tackle the disease away from backyard farmers and wild migratory birds. Instead, efforts to stamp out bird flu should focus on intensive rearing units, particularly those in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to Grain, an international campaigning group promoting agricultural biodiversity in the developing world.

"In a new report, entitled Fowlplay: the poultry industry's central role in the bird flu crisis, the group claims that the "epicentre" of the pandemic can be traced back to Asian units housing millions of birds. Such intensive conditions have provided ideal breeding grounds for the new strains of highly pathogenic bird flu, it is claimed.

"The disease is spread not only by migrating birds, but along the highways and railway lines of the transnational poultry trade, the report says.

It tells us,

"Crucial to the case that bid flu is linked to factory farming is the outbreak in Nigeria this year, which illegally imported unregulated hatchable eggs. Meanwhile, it is claimed the disease was first discovered and spread from a factory farm in India."

The Independent piece ends by quoting an editorial "in this month's Lancet" which says,  "There is now growing concern that the whirlwind spread of avian flu in some parts of the world is not entirely governed by nature, but by the human activities of commerce and trade."

It suggests that while migratory birds may brought the virus to Europe, "far more likely to be perpetuating the spread of the virus is the movement of poultry, poultry products, or infected material from poultry farms."

And it concludes, (as does the Independent piece) with "This mode of transmission has been down-played by international agencies, who admit that migratory birds are an easy target since nobody is to blame."

You can read the full Independent piece on line at
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article356440.ece

The Dayton Daily News front page story opens:

"Within an hour's drive of Dayton are the nation's top two egg-producing counties, Darke and Mercer, whose egg, turkey and other poultry farms together generated $250 million in farm receipts in 2003.

"Though a lethal strain of bird flu has yet to be detected in North America, Tim Weaver is taking precautions. He figures he's spent $50,000 just to hire and provide transportation for a night watchman to keep thieves, animal-rights activists and potential disease-carrying trespassers away from his more than 4 million birds housed in barns longer than a football field.
You can read the full article on line at:
http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/0410birdflu.html
(My thanks to Mindy Sanders for making sure we knew about that story.)

The suggestion that animal rights activists cause the spread of avian flu is amusing. But the article in Sunday's Buffalo News, "Controversy hatching over Wegmans' egg farm," makes it clear why egg farmers don't want them on their property. It discusses a farm producing eggs under the Wegmans brand name and tells us, "animal-rights activists have drawn attention to the farm by sneaking in and filming the birds' living conditions."

It says, "Members of Compassionate Consumers used their egg farm footage as the basis of a half-hour movie called 'Wegmans Cruelty.' The film, released last year, criticizes what the group calls cruel conditions for the chickens."

(You can learn more about the case at http://www.wegmanscruelty.com and I highly recommend watching the terrific half hour film on line at http://www.wegmanscruelty.com/content/blogcategory/20/36/  )

The conditions revealed in the film are shocking. Birds are jammed as many as nine to a small cage, stacked on top of each other, with birds in the cages at the bottom living in the excrement from birds on the top. Birds were found dead or dying. One would hope for legal action against the farm. Here is what the Buffalo News article tells us about the legal action that has ensued:

"In 2004, activists with the group snuck in late at night three times to record the living conditions. They asked law enforcement authorities to investigate based on the footage they shared, but no charges were brought against Wegmans.  But three activists ended up facing charges last year related to their unauthorized entries. Melanie Ippolito and Megan Cosgrove, both of whom appear in the film, pleaded guilty to reduced charges, said Ryan Merkley, campaign coordinator for Compassionate Consumers. Adam Durand, the maker of the film, is scheduled to go on trial May 2 on felony charges of burglary, trespassing and petit larceny, Merkley said."

However, we learn:

"Distribution of the 'Wegmans Cruelty' film has helped the story attract media attention. The New York Times wrote about the dispute, and the ABC program "Primetime" is expected to air a report on Friday, Merkley said. (The New York Times article on that case is summarized on the DawnWatch website at http://tinyurl.com/rftf6 )

All of the articles cited above present great opportunities for letters to the editor against the factory farming of chickens and in favor of plant-based diets. You will find much information on factory farming and avian flu at  http://www.factoryfarming.com/health_moreAI.htm

The Independent takes letters at letters@independent.co.uk and advises, "If you wish to submit a letter for publication in the newspaper, it must include the sender's name, postal address and daytime telephone number."

The Dayton Daily News takes letters at
http://www.daytondailynews.com/service/content/service/info/feedback.html
Choose "Comment to the editor" from the pull-down menu."

And the Buffalo News takes letters at LetterToEditor@buffnews.com and advises, "Every single letter which we print in the paper is verified by telephone, so be sure to sign your letter and include your address and a day-time phone number."

Avian flu is no doubt being covered in your local paper. Why not use some of the information provided above in letters responding to your paper's articles on avian flu?  Don't hesitate to ask for help if you have trouble finding the email address for a letter to your editor -- and I am always happy to edit letters.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com . To unsubscribe, go to  http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi  If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)
 

Return to Animals in Print 14 April 2006 Issue

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