A recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/projects/en/pplpi/docarc/pb_hpaiindustrialrisks.html, directs responsibility for the development of Highly Pathogenic Viruses, including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, H5N1, at industrial livestock operations. However, major news coverage has focused on one veterinarian at FAO who is pointing his finger at domestic waterfowl in Europe, claiming that they are silently harboring the virus. Europe should prepare for more outbreaks from them, reports quote.
This kind of confusion has marked both official policy and news coverage of HPAI. Despite the facts that connect HPAI with commercial operations, policies focus on small flocks. The Marans rooster above is a French breed. The picture was taken by Michelle Conrad of Ohio.
If we wanted to create highly pathogenic viruses, we could think of no better way to do it than the concentrated animal feeding operations of industrial agriculture. The fact that they are causing problems should not result in policies that destroy small flocks.
An enlightened agriculture policy would favor small flocks and protect them from the creations of overcrowded livestock conditions. As it is, the industry somehow turns policymakers around so that they devise policies that protect the source of the danger and decimate the small flocks that are the best defense against it.