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As you may know and be reading about, a case of H5N1 in turkeys in the UK is sparking some intense media coverage. All the experts agreed (and still agree, as do I) that the risk to people is very small. But the handling of information and communication by the powers that be in this case ought to be a cautionary tale. If companies and countries expect their citizens to be willing and trusting partners in public health and safety ventures, complete transparency and timely and honest pronouncements need to be standard procedure. Trust, once lost, is difficult to regain.

At first, the company (Bernard Matthews) and government officials denied any possibility of company responsibility, suggesting a small bird may have flown into one of four sheds where the turkeys are housed through a ventilation shaft. While plausible (independent experts suggested the same based on available data), the theory raised questions about bird surveillance throughout the UK (there were no other reports of birds infected with H5N1 closer than Hungary, where there was a known H5N1 outbreak in swans).

More importantly, any possibility of either a Bernard Matthews Hungarian affiliate's being a source of the virus, or the possibility of affected meat getting into the food chain was vigorously denied.

Bernard Matthews produces 8 million turkeys a year in the United Kingdom and also has a corporate subsidiary in Hungary. Defra [the responsible British agency] has said the virus isolated in Suffolk is similar to strains found in Hungary in January, but Windsor says that "no Bernard Matthews staff recently traveled from Hungary back to Suffolk," and Hungarian officials have announced "no link between the two outbreaks," she says.

Naturally enough, the company put up an internet Q&A for consumers. From the current Bernard Matthews home page:

Is it safe to eat Bernard Matthews products?

Properly cooked Bernard Matthews products are perfectly safe to eat. Advice from the Food Standards Agency has been and remains that avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. You have probably heard Government officials from Defra saying exactly the same thing.

Should I stop buying your products?

No, not at all - the Food Standards Agency says that people who eat properly cooked poultry are not at risk of catching the disease.

Will Bernard Matthews remove its products from supermarkets?

No. None of our products will be recalled following the Food Standard Agency's advice that avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

That's all well and good, except two days ago what appeared on the same company web page was this:

So none of the products I have at home in my fridge or freezer are affected?

That's right, none of the affected poultry entered the food chain so there is no need to worry.

Am I at risk of catching the disease?

No, not at all - people who eat poultry products are not at risk of catching the disease. This is because the disease has not entered the food chain and was identified at a very early stage.

Unfortunately for Bernard Matthews, what immediately followed was questions about whether infected meat had gotten into the food chain... possibly indirectly from Hungary. this From the Guardian:

Official: H5N1 may be in human food chain

Friday February 9, 2007

The Food Standards Agency confirmed today that it was investigating the
possibility that turkey meat contaminated by bird flu at a Bernard Matthews poultry farm has entered the human food chain.

The government's chief scientist, Sir David King, said the agency would be
considering ordering supermarkets to remove packaged turkey from shelves
after it emerged that Bernard Matthews had been transporting turkey meat
from Hungary to the Suffolk farm where the H5N1 strain of the virus was
discovered.

The environment minister Ben Bradshaw warned that legal action could be
launched following the latest developments and possible breaches in
bio-security at the plant.

"As part of the investigation into what might have caused the outbreak of
bird flu in a Suffolk poultry farm, the agency will check that no infected
meat has got into food," the FSA said in a statement.

There's a big difference between accidental introduction of H5N1 into a biosecure plant and a breach of procedure that led a Hungarian affiliate of the company to have semi-processed meat sold into the food chain.

Britain's first outbreak of bird flu may have been caused by semi-processed turkey meat imported from Hungary, where the disease is prevalent.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials said 38 tonnes a week had been sent to the processing plant of the Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Suffolk, where the H5N1 strain of the virus erupted a week ago.

The revelation is a remarkable about-turn. Earlier, Environment Secretary David Miliband had assured the Commons that there was "no Hungarian connection" and that the outbreak had most likely been brought to Britain by wild birds.

So, rather than issuing a simple "We don't know yet, we are vigorously investigating", or using the opportunity to revisit preparedness in the UK (what an opportunity!), the defensive "it can't possibly have been us or our procedures" approach was used to the detriment of more than one reputation for candor. And we wonder why 'authoritative sources' are not always trusted?

Hopefully, there will be some major lessons learned. A full investigation may lead to some answers about where the virus came from, but that investigation should also review communication practices. Spin control won't do it in a crisis. Transparency will. And while sales have not suffered, and the risk to humans is very small, this is clearly an opportunity for government and company officials who think 'everything is under control' because 'it can't happen here' to rethink what they think they know. It can happen, and it just did. So, the UK should review their preparedness plans, review biosecurity procedures, and review communications plans. Based on what's in the news, they all need work.

Update [2007-2-13 7:43:42 by DemFromCT]:: Accidental find alerted bird flu inspectors to suspect turkey imports

· Discarded wrapper exposed meat's origins
· Bernard Matthews plant cleared to reopen

You can't make this stuff up.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:23 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  note this story (9+ / 0-)

    Fears that infected meat could have entered the food chain following the bird flu outbreak in Suffolk appeared to be having little effect on poultry sales.

    Two of Britain's leading supermarkets have still not recorded any significant drop in sales despite the investigation into whether contaminated turkey had reached the shops.

    People do not panic. That's a myth.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:26:13 AM PST

    •  panic= not buy product (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SlackerInc, goverup1

      That is what they really mean.

      fact does not require fiction for balance

      by mollyd on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:33:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But what about the mad cow deal? (0+ / 0-)

      Didn't beef sales plummet in the UK after that?

      -Alan

      -9.00, -3.69 "If [Democrats] take the hard left...this majority will last exactly 24 months" - Charlie Cook, 11/17/06

      by SlackerInc on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:37:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

      Supermarkets alert for mass turkey recall

      Efforts to maintain consumer confidence in turkey and poultry appeared to have failed; Sainsbury's reported a 10% slump in sales. The store said: "We have seen a dip of approximately 10% in our poultry sales figures as a whole for the past five days compared to the same days last week. The situation is, however, evolving all the time, and the recent bad weather has also been a factor in the drop in sales." Tesco also reported a fall of up to 9% earlier this week.

      •  it's evolving... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tzt

        it's one thing to say that 'at the mere mention of H5N1 in turkey, sales will dry up' and another to say that 'given that the UK might recall meat/is recalling meat, sales are beginning to drop'.

        The former is panic (and it didn't happen). The latter is enlightened self-interest.

        The problem comes when the government sends the all-clear. After this, will they (or Bernard Matthews) be trusted?

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:53:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am just surprised. :) (0+ / 0-)

          You linked  to a Guardian story from Saturday and I linked to another Guardian story from the same day.

          How they explained the drop in sales was decidedly different. :)
          Is that confusion or just not knowing what happened?
          As a consumer, I´d be careful right now.

          •  see reuters below (0+ / 0-)

            i don't know if the picture is clear yet.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 05:08:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  more from Sunday herald (0+ / 0-)

            link

            Early signs yesterday were that the possibility of contaminated products having entered the food chain was having only a small effect on consumer confidence. Tesco said it had seen a slight fall in sales, while Asda said the outbreak and ensuing investigation had had "absolutely no impact" on customers shopping in its branches.

            Sainsbury's recorded a drop of 10% across its poultry products but a spokeswoman said bad weather could also have also had an effect.

            However, the image of Bernard Matthews - which already had to endure Jamie Oliver's campaign against its Turkey Twizzlers product - could be further hit by the outbreak.

            The company has insisted its food is completely safe and that there is no risk of catching flu, but supermarkets would not reveal their sales figures for these specific products. One survey yesterday revealed the company is now one of the least liked brands in Britain, second only to McDonald's.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:18:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  PS more on turkey sales from Reuters (0+ / 0-)

        Supermarket chain Sainsbury's <SBRY.L> reported a 10 percent drop in poultry sales over the past five days compared with a year ago, although other retailers said they had seen no impact.

        link

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 01:21:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  actually (0+ / 0-)

      for corporate executives, "panic" is code for customers making a rational decision to buy less or not buy at all.

      Ordinary people are not "panicking" over poultry because there's already been so many scares due to e-coli and salmonella, etc.  People have figured out how to handle the raw foods safely in their own kitchens.

  •  What raises concern for me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Overseas

    is the current response and handling in the US to mad cow testing and results. How long will be it after an H5N1 occurrence at a poultry farm here that it is actually reported and the full extent acknowledged.

    •  trust is so important here (5+ / 0-)

      and that's why transparency and openness are such important principles to follow.

      CDC has adopted a 'be first, be right, be credible' approach. Great. USDA and everyone else should do the same.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:31:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hens Teeth

        I'm not worried about transparency from the scientists once they get hold of the information, but I am very suspicious that producers will attempt to dodge and duck and obscure information about outbreaks of bird flu (or any other hazard) in their processing chain. They aren't in the "food for people" business; they are in the "extract cash from people" business. The only way to make them report truthfully is to make it impossibly costly to fail to do so -- that is, through regulation with serious penalties for non-compliance attached. Not likely. Lying to the public and minor sanctions are simply costs of doing business.

        Scary. This whole edifice only works because of an irrational residue of ethics derived from previous human history. Until we somehow implant a new ethic, the species is in for a difficult run.

  •  did they feed turkey products to uk animals? (0+ / 0-)

    Didn't we learn anything from madcow disease?

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:30:28 AM PST

  •  Haven't we learned. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    QuinnLaBelle

    or I should say, why is it that I know but evidently others don't, the single most important act during a public health crisis is  a clear and honest statement from a public official.

    But the handling of information and communication by the powers that be in this case ought to be a cautionary tale. If companies and countries expect their citizens to be willing and trusting partners in public health and safety ventures, complete transparency and timely and honest pronouncements need to be standard procedure. Trust, once lost, is difficult to regain.

  •  Panic over this strain of flu? No they make the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChapiNation386, Hens Teeth

    cure in Rockville maryland,

    But a large enogh outbreak, is an excuse to declare a State of Emergancy, and THAT is something to panic about

    Michael Chertoff running the country, Skeletor, my god

    blue dyed in the wool, and proud of it

    by princess of puters on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:34:00 AM PST

    •  ahem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tzt, Overseas

      No they make the cure in Rockville maryland,

      Don't you mean NIH or Fort Detrick?

      Neither of those are located in Rockville, Maryland.

      And, no, no one anywhere has a cure or vaccine for Influenza A/H5N1.  Working on it, but so far ... no luck.

      •  neither --- (0+ / 0-)

        they are definately in Rockville.  

        this work has been going on for a few years, I will take your word for it on no progress, but I know the company, not sure how much to say now, this makes me nervous.

        I won't name names, I dont' know if I understand the legal ramifications of naming them, or the fortune 500 parent company.

        blue dyed in the wool, and proud of it

        by princess of puters on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 10:05:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  this is public info (0+ / 0-)

          Current influenza vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, which may be in short supply during a pandemic. Therefore, alternatives must be developed to protect the world's population. Novavax, Rockville, Md., has been awarded $850,000 to produce several non-egg-grown influenza vaccines. Louis Potash, Ph.D., will lead a team of scientists in developing these vaccines, and the most promising will be prepared for use in future clinical trials.

          link

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 11:01:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Data backup (0+ / 0-)

        That is, until Jeffrey Taubenberger, a molecular pathologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Md., and his team toiled for 10 years to piece together the deadly virus in a high-security laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

        The results, published in the journal Nature in October 2005, offered some parallels between the Spanish flu virus and the H5N1 strain of the bird flu slowly spreading through Asia and recently turning up in other parts of the world.

        http://www.pbs.org/...

        blue dyed in the wool, and proud of it

        by princess of puters on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 07:28:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amend cure to Antibodies n/t (0+ / 0-)

      blue dyed in the wool, and proud of it

      by princess of puters on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 07:24:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why Do I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Overseas

    Get the 'this will be one hell of an ugly lawsuit' vibe from this story?

    The Truth about [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/12/ap/politics/mainD8MJRGCO0.shtml John McCain]

    by ChapiNation386 on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:37:41 AM PST

  •  The world is flat (0+ / 0-)

    Britain's first outbreak of bird flu may have been caused by semi-processed turkey meat imported from Hungary, where the disease is prevalent.

    So much for the vaunted global economy.

    Assh*les.

  •  Payback is a bitch (0+ / 0-)

    People treat animals like inanimate objects and subject them to lives of unending misery and pain in factory farms.  If people are now starting to get sick and die from these monstrous practices, then we've brought it on ourselves and earned every minute of it.

    "No doubt Jack the Ripper excused himself on the grounds that it was human nature." A.A. Milne

    by DurianJoe on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:53:20 AM PST

    •  listen to this fascinating interview (0+ / 0-)

      on science friday. I am not defending factory farms, but the two participants (one from the US and one from the UK) point out in answer to that question that backyard farms from Se Asia are hardly immune to H5N1 and that feeding more people is the trade-off.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:58:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Going further (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe it's best to cut to the chase.  After centuries of keeping captive, killing, and eating chickens and other animals, the fact that our meat-eating ways might be rebouding on us in lethal ways can also be seen as "farm animals" getting back at us for a change.

        "No doubt Jack the Ripper excused himself on the grounds that it was human nature." A.A. Milne

        by DurianJoe on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 10:10:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  On the other hand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hens Teeth
        I find this article fascinating:
        how industrial practices spread bird flu

        Backyard or free-range poultry are not fuelling the current wave of bird flu outbreaks stalking large parts of the world. The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is essentially a problem of industrial poultry practices. Its epicentre is the factory farms of China and Southeast Asia and -- while wild birds can carry the disease, at least for short distances -- its main vector is the highly self-regulated transnational poultry industry, which sends the products and waste of its farms around the world through a multitude of channels. Yet small poultry farmers and the poultry biodiversity and local food security that they sustain are suffering badly from the fall-out. To make matters worse, governments and international agencies, following mistaken assumptions about how the disease spreads and amplifies, are pursuing measures to force poultry indoors and further industrialise the poultry sector. In practice, this means the end of the small-scale poultry farming that provides food and livelihoods to hundreds of millions of families across the world. This paper presents a fresh perspective on the bird flu story that challenges current assumptions and puts the focus back where it should be: on the transnational poultry industry.

        It's true that backyard poultry likely aren't sufficient to feed the world - but chickens are so easy to raise (and good for your garden as well) that moves to crack down on backyard birds could significantly reduce biodiversity and also be a food crisis for families who rely upon them. If it saves lives, it would be worth it... but I would suggest that simply improving hygene practices to minimize bird-human contact could provide a safer outcome and without so much fallout.

        The factory farms produce a densely packed monoculture and once the flu virus is introduced, it is a foregone conclusion that the whole flock will be infected. In less dense settings, with birds that aren't all the same genetic stock, you can expect that some birds would be resistant - and even then, destroying a flock of 10 is different than a flock of 10,000. If a nation's poultry is produced in only 3 locations, all it takes is three transmissions to infect all the birds.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:41:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "this means the end of the small-scale poultry (0+ / 0-)

          farming"

          Agri-business has created the problem, and then is using it to get rid of competition from small independents.  We are losing the right to grow our own food.

          "Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, I'm not sure what that is" Sen. Jeff Sessions

          by Hens Teeth on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 07:56:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't safe food as important as terrorism? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT

    How much more is spent on the latter?

  •  big business profit over safety (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Overseas

    This is yet another example of how our (UK) food industry is willing to put profit over safety. We saw the same with BSE and foot and mouth disease. Despite tough food production standards they are clearly insufficient. The fact that Berbard Matthews thought it acceptable to import poultry products from an infected country with a poor reputation on hygene says it all.
    The fact that this also took questions from the British media before the link with Hungary was taken seriously reinforces the need for a quality investigative media. Well done BBC and The Guardian.

  •  Factory Famring (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DurianJoe, Hens Teeth

    This is the real culprit, and it's time to dismantle this infrascture back to what it once was. If that means nationalizing it, fine, but food-production has to be broken-up and physically decentralized as it once was. This isn't working.

  •  Typos (0+ / 0-)

    "Farming", sorry. ;0)

  •  Simple solution: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DurianJoe

    go veggie. Seems obvious to me, and the side effects are tremendous, help to save the rain forrest, help in the global warming battle, lower your chance of getting diabetes, among the many benefits of a veggie lifestyle.  

    •  Solution isn't what you eat, it's where it comes (0+ / 0-)

      from.  Agri-business is agri-business whether growing spinach or chickens.  We need to encourage the small-scale and backyard farms.

      "Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, I'm not sure what that is" Sen. Jeff Sessions

      by Hens Teeth on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 08:03:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am following this bird flu story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DurianJoe, Hens Teeth

    with great interest. Not because it threatens some danger to the human species, which is the usual knee jerk reaction to outbreaks of this nature. Happened with mad cow disease, will continue to happen unless and until all of us at each stage of the food chain understand that it is our global agricultural practices,  which in reality boils down to warehousing millions of birds and force feeding poultry and cattle antibiotics and ground up carcasses in their feed in order to supply a  consumption demand for cheap and easily accessible food in giant supermarket stores. Virus have been around long before man crawled out of the primeval swamps and as the planet deteriorates that is the one life-form that will eventually prove supreme. The viral diseases are not the culprits, humans are the culprits and perpetrators, we are killing ourselves, suppressing our immune systems, destroying the environment, demanding more and more choice, more and more ease of access to cheap consumer goods. We are all interconnected - simplistic, certainly, that's partially why it is true. Thomas Merton wrote: "The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another". By that tenet of faith wee are all responsible and all accountable.

  •  Vegeratarians looking mighty good now. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DurianJoe
  •  Or maybe the precautionary principle is bunk? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hens Teeth

    Controlling the population through anxiety and fear is currently the method used by our government, and the precautionary principle plays right into it.

    Teaching people how to correctly evaluate their risk in NUMBERS, rather than pandering to their evolved, and incorrect, tendency to think of themselves as a member of a small group, when the news is being presented for a much much larger population might be a good idea.

    Or in short sentences:

    We evolved in groups no larger than ~150 members.

    We therefore presume intuitively that any single incident of danger is 1 in 150.

    The news is drawn from millions of people, so we should be much less worried about our danger chances.

    We don't, so we are harried and harassed by the news.

    Your chances of getting bird flu are LESS than your chances of marrying a movie star. Or getting hit by lightning: "Nearly 2000 people per year in the world are injured by lightning strikes, and between 25 to 33% of those struck die." CITE

    Listen Before You Talk.

    by ormondotvos on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:15:43 PM PST

    •  Facts (0+ / 0-)

      Listen Before You Talk.

      by ormondotvos on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:18:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  so never prepare for anything (0+ / 0-)

      because the odds are small? After all, your chances of getting struck by lightning are small, so go play golf in a thunderstorm. That's an interesting approach to public health but, thank Darwin, is self-limiting.

      It's interesting that a discussion of an actual risk and low prabability-high impact event would be labeled as "controlling the population through anxiety and fear". By that reckoning, building and maintaining levees that would withstand a cat 5 hurricane in New Orleans is a waste of time and money, and any such discussion of the real impact of a cat 5 hurricane is based on anxiety and fear. Ask people in NOLA if they agree.

      Needless to say, I think your read of this is completely understandable, but regrettable. Pandemics really do happen and have to be prepared for in advance.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:27:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The authorities (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, Hens Teeth

    are now trying to determine how the virus got from the parts shed to the living turkey sheds. We are given two choices so far - vermin and wild birds. I think we can eliminate the wild birds as they shouldn't be able to get into either place. Rats? Don't know. We ignore the third choice - human hands. Matthews employs over 300 Portuguese workers who have little English and probably never have had any bio training. If they went back and forth between sheds, that is one possible solution. There is also a fourth choice - the making of infected turkey into turkey feed for the living turkeys.
    The possible probable certain recall of turkey from the stores? I expect that tomorrow or Monday.

    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams

    by Overseas on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:34:40 PM PST

    •  well, htatll mean another rewrite for the (0+ / 0-)

      Bernard matthews home page.  ;-)

      See Effect Measure for another take, same story.

      Effect Measure

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:39:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

        but true and exactly how it has gone. I recall how well they contained Foot & Mouth with domesticated animals in England....NOT! A small part of the story is the resistence of the government to take any action that might hurt farmer's sales, and by shirking their responsibilities, they totally destroy the very market they were trying to save.

        It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams

        by Overseas on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 02:32:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mass slaughter (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hens Teeth
          is a stupid way to conduct disease control.

          Also, having inspectors travel from farm to farm is a great way to spread disease.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:44:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  culling has a role (0+ / 0-)
            but robert webster thinks overall we've failed to halt the spread of the virus.

            ``It's a general failure,'' Webster said. ``I'm not pointing the finger at anyone; I've also failed. We as a whole have failed to understand the ecology of H5N1 well enough to control it.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 08:40:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  All that anyone needs to hear (0+ / 0-)

    Hopefully, there will be some major lessons learned.

    I stopped reading instantly upon parsing that sentence. Nothing more need be said. Because that shit just ain't gonna happen.

    When, really, in living memory, have large governmental and business institutions ever displayed any degree of learning behavior or flexible adaptation to changing circumstances? Can anyone cite a single example?

    The sub rosa message about anything having to do with avian influenza is this: there will most likely be a pandemic. The government isn't capable of taking the intelligent steps required to prevent it. The government isn't capable of taking the intelligent steps required to contain it once prevention fails.

    And when the shit truly hits the fan, and when you're expecting for the government to come help you, it will not be there. No more than it was there for the New Orleanians who experienced Katrina. (Which was a vastly smaller catastrophe than would be a bird flu pandemic.)

    •  you were at the end of the piece (0+ / 0-)

      so it's okay if you instantly stopped reading. ;-)

      There certainly will be a pandemic at some point (don't know when). Pandemics happen.

      There are those in government working their ass off to help mitigate the results, so i don't take the view of govt. efforts you do. But the idea that you state, that you should assume that you're on your own, is a prudent one.

      As for New Orleans, did you know that 80% of the population evacuated, which was much higher than expected? It wasn't enough. it was a failure of imagination and a failure of communication and a failure at a dozen other levels. But don't blame Max Mayfield and everyone in government. Not everyone is Michael Brown.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 01:53:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now's a good time to rethink USDA proposal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hens Teeth
    I guess this is a good a place as any to bring up the fact that about a year ago, the USDA proposed that we export our poultry to China for processing, then re-import the finished product for our consumption.

    Sorry I don't have a link for this because the article is so old, from Jan. 27, 2006.

    Here are the first couple paragraphs, in case someone can track down a linkable article:

    USDA Proposes China Process U.S. Poultry

    By LIBBY QUAID, AP Food and Farm Writer 47 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON - The Agriculture Department is seeking to allow shipments of poultry processed in China, where thousands of birds and several
    people have died from bird flu.
    ADVERTISEMENT

    The United States does not accept live poultry imports from countries where the virulent bird flu strain is present, and it still would not under the proposed policy.

    Instead, the department would allow China to process poultry slaughtered in the U.S. or other countries from which the U.S. accepts poultry.

    •  More excerpts to USDA proposal news (0+ / 0-)
      The industry did not ask for the proposal, National Chicken Council spokesman Richard Lobb said. Chicken companies recently launched tests of every flock in the nation to reassure people that chicken is safe to eat.

      "The timing is a mystery to us. We did not seek this rule. We're not objecting to it, but we didn't support it, either," Lobb said.

      Under the government proposal, the poultry would have to be fully cooked in China and packaged or canned for shipment to the United States.

      The Agriculture Department proposed the rule, with no announcement, on Nov. 23. The period during which it accepted comments on the proposal ended Monday. The rule still must be finalized before it takes effect.

      (I have the full article in an email dated Jan 27 06, not sure the date of the article)

      •  I wasn't worried - (0+ / 0-)

        ... until I read that.

        I find this curious:
        'The industry did not ask for the proposal, National Chicken Council spokesman Richard Lobb said.
        "The timing is a mystery to us. We did not seek this rule. We're not objecting to it, but we didn't support it, either," Lobb said.'

        So - who invested in Chinese chicken processing?

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