Thursday, January 12, 2006

Life, not livelihood

On the outbreak of Birdflu
in Turkey

One of the presenters on CNN dropped the comment that you could understand people hiding their poultry from slaughter during the epidemic as it was their livelihood.
Nice sentiment but I think he hadn't quite grasped the situation.

In rural communities all over the world, a similar fight is going on: Western Media reporting from an essentially urban point of view and failing to understand we are not talking about poultry as a way of earning a living, we are talking about the only source of meat and animal protein available to vast numbers of people.

If the birds are killed, people will not be able to buy meat. Most live in isolated communities where there are no shops selling meat even if the people were given money to buy meat with.
The birds are self replicating - you replace your stock using the eggs they lay. Where will the replacement stock come from if you slaughter the villages whole stock?

The chickens do a number of other jobs too: By rooting around food crops they drastically reduce the insect pest population so increase crop production; their dung fertilises the soil; their feathers are an essential tool in keeping warm in the bitter winters of turkey (forget the Med Coast holidays and try travelling up into the Highlands).

I noticed the same attitude when the bird-flu outbreak occured in the Danube: Our media's understanding goes so far only. I do not blame them, they are after all only the product of the society that employs them.

But surely it is time someone out there really went and researched the consequences of the slaughter?

What has happened in those Danube communities where the birds were slaughtered?

No comments: