The government recently announced an “investment” of $300,000 to continue studying the link between wild waterfowl and the avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley. The studies collect sediment samples of ponds to develop “cutting-edge technological advances to be able to test the samples … for the presence of avian flu strains.”
It’s simply common sense — and science — that the conditions of factory farms themselves are the most likely culprit for the development and spreading of diseases such as avian influenza. A single shed today contains thousands to hundreds of thousands of birds who are never allowed outside. The birds are forced to live in their own waste and breathe ammonia-laden air that burns their lungs and damages their immune systems. To keep infections at bay, a steady diet of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics must be fed to them. When one bird gets sick, the disease can quickly spread to all the birds in the shed. These sheds are ideal breeding grounds for pathogens. Hans-Gerhard Wagner, a senior officer with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, has called the “intensive industrial farming of livestock” an “opportunity for emerging disease.”
Perhaps rather than spending taxpayer funds on studying goose poop, the government should consider the real culprit – factory farms.