UN vet dismisses fish farming as bird flu risk is Reuters story.

Despite the headline, chief vet Dr Joseph Domenech (yes, the key blamer of birds in FAO – or at least the key public face of blame lately) does not dismiss the risk:

The FAO, which is monitoring the global spread of bird flu, supports the practice whereby feces from farm animals are used to boost fish production.

The excrement is used to boost nutrients in water for the organisms the fish feed on.

Domenech told Reuters there was a theoretical risk of fish farms becoming a source of infection if excrement from infected poultry were poured into the ponds.

It could create “an infection outbreak in the environment, in the water, which can be the source of contamination of other birds which come to drink there.”

He added, however, that as long as the correct surveillance was in place, infection should not happen, or could be dealt with quickly if it did.

– but where is such correct surveillance in place? Almost nowhere I should think; and were fish farmers in Russia, eastern Europe, even Qinghai, lately on lookout for H5N1? No, I’d say.
Even in poultry farms in regions with H5N1, surveillance can be poor or terrible – witness several human cases, only after which has H5N1 been found in local poultry. Then, get cover-ups by officials.

“To ban these systems of raising livestock which are extremely efficient and irreplaceable to feed the populations in those countries, would be like banning the raising of ducks because ducks are considered one of the main sources.”

and here’s the key. Not science, but FAO mission to promote food security (no matter the potential risks of disease spread – potential heightened inflienza risk from dodgy fish farming practices warned of back in 1988, yet FAO promoted them, evidently viewing rewards as outweighing risks. Now, seems unwilling to even look for potential problems; just saying can’t be there as issue’s too important.

“Today it’s impossible to say that wild birds are not playing a role,” said Domenech. “We hope in three to four months, at the end of this migration period, we will see better.”

Nonsense! It’s straightforward and valid to say, right now, birds are not major vectors; they can’t sustain high path avian flus. There is plenty of data; and there’s natural selection.

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/01/21 02:35