Independent spouting Nimanism re bird flu?

I was a bit startled to see a rather alarmist piece re bird flu in Britain's Independent newspaper, which seemed to be based on little but info from Henry Niman.

Bird Flu: Is it the New BSE? Sent Independent's features editorial dept an email as follows:

I'm a bit startled to find your environment editor spouting what appears to be pure [Henry] Nimanism in long piece on bird flu:

Could migrating birds bring it to Britain? Almost certainly. The Government says that infected birds are likely to die before they reached our shores, but that is a false reassurance. It has been known for decades that waterfowl carry flu viruses without themselves being affected. Even if they did perish they would first pass it on to other birds that would carry it onwards. It has already been carried by migrating birds from China across Russia; there is no reason why it should stop there. So it's coming from China? Yes, from the massive Qinghai lake, high in the mountains in the far north-west of the country, a summer hub for migrating waterfowl from all over Asia. Thousands of birds died from the virus there this summer, and infected survivors have now begun their autumn migration to their wintering grounds.

Ominously, there are unconfirmed reports that hundreds of people in this remote area have also died, and that some of the strains of the virus found in the birds have mutated so they can infect humans. China has denied this, and clamped down on information and research, leading to suspicions of a cover-up.

- pretty much quoting Niman verbatim. Would this be the same Niman who wrote of problems with Eboloa and bird flu mixing in Sichuan (where infections are from a bacteria)? And who suggested Korea had developed a flu bioweapon, even tho this is deadly to mice not people? Anyway, Niman took in major US journo Laurie Garrett with the bioweapon story; Singapore paper ran big story on Ebola/bird flu (maybe you'd care to do likewise?). So you're not the first to have been duped, by "science" that isn't published in peer reviewed journals, but on the Internet, where it's popular with bloggers. (Maybe Geoffrey needs a new title - popular pseudo-science correspondent?)

Or, have you found other, real scientists who agree with the above? Not just conservationists who actually know about wild birds, but also disease experts such as authors of a recent Nature paper. US Geol survey scientists who study bird flu recently questioned assertions bird flu spread in Russia is due to wild birds: asked for solid evidence. New Scientist just noted spread fits transport - roads/rail etc. Lancet had recent paper saying bird flu spread looked to well fit transport in legal/illegal poultry trade. I'm told a report just out shows that the UK foot n mouth epidemic involved more spread thro animal transport than previously acknowledged.

So, just why is it so wrong to suggest poultry industry - which spawned this h5n1 poultry flu, a variant never found in wild birds till it emerged from farms - transports this poultry farm franken-flu [if you want wild copy] There's plenty more info available, for instance: Birdlife Int position statement[/url] Birds Korea position statement (helped with the above; based on being in region w bird flu since 2003/04 - yet no evidence it has remained in wild bird populations)[/url]

Dead Ducks Don't Fly article on my website[/url] - Niman likes to decry this and other such info, but does so with no detail, just grand statements (and have any of you looked at his "wild bird flu map" - if he hadn't told you, what would you say was the vector? You're aware, I take it, a main supposed vector is largely flightless coz of moulting at time much of the spread happened?) h5n1 bird flu and migratory birds forum - also on my website, with various posts. I'm about to post about your article, Independent being latest to quote Nimanism.

Replies welcome.

Yours, Dr Martin Williams

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