Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Arrogance of the Ferret Killers

Deep in the laboratories of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka busied himself recently on a proud piece of work. Like a scientific acquaintance who once told me that "society should f*** off and let us get on with science!" the Professor and his team decided it was in the best interests of the rest of us to create not one but FOUR hybrid strains of killer bird flu, the class of deadly virus that many in the scientific and medical communities are worried might suddenly mutate and cross over into humans and create a pandemic.

Why did the Professor do this?

Well, for a start, he wanted to give the newly created death virus to some ferrets. You know ferrets, don't you? Nasty wee furry bastards with sharp teeth. Killing them with a deadly bird virus is, according to the Professor, the best thing for them.


Because apparently if you infect ferrets, it will help protect us from bird flu if it ever mutates. Ferrets and people - like peas in a pod. Why, each time I sink my row of razor sharp teeth into a mouse, and use my hind claws to give my furry neck a good scratch, I just feel thankful for the Professor infecting these ferrets and now controversially releasing the full set of information on how to make his deadly virus so his fellow scientists can maybe have a go in their own labs at infecting their own ferrets.

Ferrets - the absolute spit of you and me. Apparently....
So, just how ludicrous have we now got to? We create viruses from elements of bird infections to kill another species of animal supposedly to protect humans and then we publish the data. At which point does it stop being wrong and just become plain stupid?

There is already plenty of evidence that the routes taken by bird flu when it has been prevalent among animals have not followed the migratory paths of wild birds, but rather the routes of live animal transportation by big food companies like Bernard Matthews. Crushed into unsanitary, unsafe and cruel conditions in factory farms, animals of many species are highly susceptible to all sorts of disease and bird flu has been no exception. With live chicks hatched in Britain flown to Japan to be reared and flown back, our global transportation system is by far the most dangerous component of spreading diseases of all sorts and especially among animals moved for thousands of miles in cramped surroundings. Very often this is done with a very high in-journey attrition rate, with animals flown or driven sometimes for days with the corpses of their brothers and sisters lying next to them, rotting slowly, collateral damage in multinational food corporations quest for profit, regardless of the welfare of both the "livestock" and the eventual human consumers.

Migratory birds have often been blamed for spreading Avian (Bird) flu, when in fact research suggests the opposite may be the case: the flight of wild birds disperses the virus, reducing the spread of infection, while the concentration of battery farmed animals provides fertile conditions for viruses to infect large numbers of creatures.

"A lot of migratory species are unfairly blamed for spreading infections to humans," Barbara Han... of the University of Georgia and a co-author of the new paper, said in a prepared statement. "But there are just as many examples suggesting the opposite—that humans are responsible for creating conditions that increase disease in migratory species."

So we have a classic case of trying to clean up our own mess by making a new mess! A bit like spending hundreds of millions on elusive carbon capture technologies rather than on reducing carbon emissions to begin with. Lets fight a virus with...a virus. 

And let's kill some ferrets on the way. After all, they are disposable. And perhaps they are not the only disposable items in the minds of some of these purists who want society to get out of their way.

Worried about bird flu? Maybe we should stop this rather than manufacturing even more...

No comments:

Post a Comment