Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why Didn't They Warn Us About U.S. Avian Flu?

On August 9th, 2007, 5 nations banned poultry products from being imported from the states of Nebraska and Virginia due to separate flocks of turkeys being found to be infected with H5N1, or Avian Flu. The countries involved were the Philippines, China, Russia, Japan and Turkey. Not only were the turkeys banned for import, but all poultry products, including eggs, were blacklisted. There was no mention of this in any major media outlet, and in fact, on some of the smaller news outlet websites, the links to the original stories have disappeared altogether.

In case anyone has been living in a bubble for the past couple of years, the Avian Flu, or Bird Flu, has been the cause of worldwide panic where ever it appears, causing the culling of millions of food source birds around the world, and the factor in 193 deaths. In one article that managed to stay online from the Daily Times in Salisbury, Maryland, it reads like a press release from the meat packing conglomerate itself. One of the companies involved is Micheals Foods, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based company with processing plants in Seward County, Nebraska. Mark Witmer, a spokesman for the corporation said that he didn't know about the bans. How this is possible when Nebraska Deputy state veterinarian Del Wilmot knew about it, as did Toby Moore, a spokesman for the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. Here's what Mr. Moore said: "The restrictions these countries have placed have absolutely nothing to do with science." Not only that, but Karen Eggert, with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the department has no qualms about sending the Seward County turkeys into the food supply. She explained that the turkeys tested positive for the presence of antibodies that indicate a possible prior exposure to an H5N1 avian influenza virus that does not pose a threat to humans.

This would be all well and good had the media alerted us citizens to the very real dangers of these potentially tainted meat products, but the silence surrounding this was deafening. And the issue would have died down as planned by all had not an article appeared in the August 19th edition of the Grand Island, Nebraska, Independent entitled "State prepares for Bird Flu Outbreak." By now, the damage control spin was in full swing, with the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa claiming that the strain of Avian Flu exposure was actually of the H7N9 variety, which is less deadly and harder to catch. (Or so they claim.) But even as they were making this claim to quell the fear among consumers, they contradicted themselves with this statement: "This virus causes no risk to birds or people but is of concern as influenza viruses can recombine genes among various strains and potentially become more serious."

Bear in mind, that in Nebraska, the poutry industry accounts for 1.5 billion dollars in annual revenue, and a Bird Flu scare could pretty much devastate Big Business' bottom line. So the birds and eggs were quietly released into our food supply, without so much as a warning from the 4th Estate, that would allow us to make up our own minds as to whether or not we wanted to consume an animal that had been exposed to this deadly disease. Who to blame here? Well, we could start with whomever it was that signed all of the safety deregulation laws and work our way down from there. This is another glaring example of how Big Business and Big Money pay off the political system, to the detriment of all of us.

Remember this little ditty when Thanksgiving rolls around, and the next time that you enter a voting booth. The people responsible for this cover up should be arrested, and the lawmakers who allowed this to happen by passing deregulation laws should be voted out of office. Period. Batmanchester

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