FDA Alert: Factory Farming Fuels Mutating Bird Flu – Not Birds or Activists

In a recent alarming development, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a stark warning about the potential for the mutating bird flu to become a significant human health threat. Contrary to the narratives often pushed by industry stakeholders, the FDA emphasizes that the root cause of this looming crisis lies not with wild birds or animal rights activists, but with the pervasive and unsanitary practices of factory farming.

The FDA’s concerns were highlighted in a statement by Jim Jones, the agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, during a Food Safety Summit on May 9. Jones pointed out the alarming rate at which bird flu is spreading and mutating, with recent outbreaks affecting not just poultry but also dairy cows in the United States. Since early 2022, over 100 million farmed birds in North America have either succumbed to the disease or been culled in an effort to control its spread. The virus has even been detected in pasteurized milk, raising further public health concerns.

Despite reassurances from government and agribusiness officials about the safety of consuming eggs and milk, the novel transmission of bird flu from a dairy cow to a farm worker has sparked significant anxiety among scientists and health experts. This incident underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to tackle the disease at its source—overcrowded and unhygienic factory farms.

Gene Baur, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, has been vocal in his criticism of the industry’s attempts to deflect blame. In a recent op-ed, Baur argued that scapegoating powerless entities like wild birds and activists distracts from the real issue: the conditions within factory farms that allow such pathogens to thrive and mutate.

As bird flu continues to wreak havoc, resulting in the mass culling of millions of birds and raising ethical concerns about the methods used, it becomes increasingly clear that the industrial farming model is unsustainable and poses significant risks to both animal and human health. The FDA’s warning serves as a crucial call to action to address the systemic problems within factory farming before a full-blown human health crisis emerges.
In a recent​ alarming development, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a stark warning about the potential for the mutating bird flu to become a significant human health threat. Contrary to the narratives often pushed by industry stakeholders, ⁣the FDA emphasizes that the root cause of this looming crisis lies not ⁣with wild birds or animal rights activists, but with the pervasive and unsanitary practices of factory farming.

The FDA’s concerns were highlighted in a statement by Jim Jones, the agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, during a Food Safety Summit on May 9. Jones pointed out⁣ the alarming rate at which bird flu is spreading and mutating, with recent ‍outbreaks affecting not just poultry but also dairy cows in the United States. Since early 2022, over 100 ​million farmed birds in North America have either succumbed to the disease or been culled in an effort to control its spread. The virus‍ has even been detected in pasteurized milk, raising further public health ​concerns.

Despite reassurances from government and agribusiness officials⁣ about the safety of consuming eggs and ⁣milk, the‍ novel transmission of bird flu from a dairy cow to a farm worker has sparked significant anxiety among scientists ‍and health experts. This incident underscores⁤ the urgent need for comprehensive measures to tackle the disease at its source—overcrowded and unhygienic factory farms.

Gene Baur, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, has been vocal in his criticism of the industry’s attempts to deflect blame. In a recent op-ed, Baur argued that scapegoating powerless entities like wild ‌birds and activists distracts from the real ‌issue: the conditions within ​factory farms that allow such pathogens to thrive and mutate.

As ‌bird flu continues‍ to wreak havoc, resulting in the‍ mass culling ⁣of millions of birds⁣ and raising ethical concerns about the methods used, it becomes increasingly clear that the industrial farming model is unsustainable and‍ poses significant risks to ​both animal and human health. The FDA’s warning serves as⁣ a⁢ crucial call to action to address the systemic‍ problems ‍within factory farming before ⁤a ⁤full-blown human health ‌crisis emerges.

A red, yellow, and brown rooster on left in front of a barn at Farm Sanctuary

FDA Concerned Mutating Bird Flu Could Become ‘Dangerous Human Pathogen.’ Blame Factory Farming, Not Birds or Activists.

A Food & Drug Administration (FDA) official has expressed concerns that bird flu could present a serious danger to human health as it mutates.

The May 9 statement came amid ongoing bird flu outbreaks in the poultry industry, recent findings of the virus in U.S. dairy cows, and its traces in pasteurized milk. Since February 2022, over 100 million farmed birds in North America have been culled or died from the disease.

“We are concerned about this virus having the opportunity to mutate and become a dangerous human pathogen,” Jim Jones, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods said at a Food Safety Summit. “The fact that pasteurization is effective does not mean we as a government are not worried about this and are still working to aggressively manage that aspect of it.”

Government and agribusiness officials have reassured the public that eggs and milk are safe to consume, but we can’t be sure, and we must act to stop bird flu’s spread. Already, the novel transmission of the illness from a dairy cow to a farm worker (whose only noticeable symptom was pink eye) in March of this year sparked concerns among scientists.

Meanwhile, animal agriculture has wasted time (and dragged its feet on testing for the disease) by blaming the prevalence of bird flu on everyone, from wild birds to undercover investigators. Overcrowded, filthy industrial farms breed disease, leaving animals, farmers, and workers vulnerable to illness.

Gene Baur, President & Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, writes in a new op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle: “Blaming those without power—those with no control over the conditions that allow this deadly pathogen to proliferate—is an effort to distract consumers from the real problem: factory farming itself.”

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media

Bird flu is nearly always fatal in birds, and just one case found on a farm means an entire flock–tens of thousands or even one million birds or more–is culled at once, most often using cruel ventilation shutdown to kill the animals via heatstroke.

This cruelty continues despite the fact that chickens have become the third most popular “pet” in the nation, with 85 million chickens living in U.S. homes. While birds suffer, animal agribusiness is shifting the blame for bird flu’s hold on the industry rather than taking meaningful action to address it.

[M]igrating wild birds have been blamed for spreading bird flu to poultry flocks, with little evidence presented. More recently, California’s State Department of Food and Agriculture opened an investigation into whether animal activists documenting cruelty may have introduced the disease to Sonoma County duck and chicken farms.

In both cases, the less powerful are blamed, while multi-billion dollar corporations are allowed to jeopardize animal and human health, and the government protects the industry’s bottom line with assurances that eggs and milk are safe to consume. Wild birds and animal activists are not the only victims of efforts to demonize anyone animal agriculture sees as a threat. Take, for example, the abuse of a gray wolf shot this year in Wyoming, where ranchers are legally permitted to kill these animals who were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act just seven years ago.

Bullies scapegoat others instead of taking responsibility for their own misdeeds, and there is no bigger bully on Earth than the factory farming industry. Overcrowding cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals in filthy, stressful conditions while giving them enormous quantities of drugs and feeding them feces and dead animals creates a fertile ground for disease. Agribusiness should stop engaging in such risky conduct rather than blaming disease outbreaks on wild birds who do not have contact with chickens inside factory farms.”

Read Gene’s full op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Then, take action to fight the harms of factory farming! By choosing not to consume animal products, you are doing your part to oppose a system that breeds disease dangerous to animals and people alike. Act today by enjoying a vegan meal – and browse our list of other easy ways to become an animal activist.

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Notice: This content was initially published on FarmSanctuary.org and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Humane Foundation.

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