Saturday 21 April 2007

Establishment turkeys, regulatory chickens, or just fowl play?

So Bernard Matthews, the turkey meat company, is to get £589,000 compensation for the birds slaughtered during the recent outbreak of H5N1 bird flu there. A nice little earner for a company whose working practices helped cause the outbreak in the first place, it's a shame the laid off Bernard Matthews workers are unlikely to get proper compensation for their lost wages.

Intensive rearing of birds, whatever the animal welfare implications - according to the CIWF, "Turkeys spend their short lives crammed with up to 25,000 birds in windowless and barren sheds" (source) - the sheer overcrowding of the birds means airborne diseases (such as H5N1) will spread rapidly in such an environment.

Then there's the practice of importing birds from abroad. Whatever the risk of spreading disease, this is increasing the number of food miles - and the amount of CO2 produced - by Bernard Matthews' turkeys.

Finally, Defra "Inspectors saw gulls feeding on meat scraps which had been left in uncovered waste bins" (source). A typical example of capitalist cost cutting at the expense of basic health and safety for the surrounding area, let alone prevention of the spread of H5N1!

"Bootiful"? I think not!

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