Don't blame wild birds for AI spread: UN
United Nations officials have told attendees at a
conference in China that improper poultry raising and sales techniques - rather
than migratory birds - play the most important role in the spread of the deadly
H5N1 bird flu virus, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Vincent Martin, of the Food and
, said the spread of bird
is mainly because the world's increased demand for protein has led to
the rapid and unregulated development of animal production.
Martin, who was speaking at an international conference in Nanchang,
Jiangxi Province, said that centuries-old practices are still being used in
highly concentrated domestic poultry production systems in Asia.
Martin said that the main causes of the deadly disease are the trade in
poultry and poultry products, while evidence indicates that wild migratory birds
play a minor role in the long-distance spread of the virus.
Marco Barbieri, executive secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species
of the UN Environmental Program, said that despite media attention the spread of
bird flu is not widely understood, with misinformation leading to the common
belief that wild birds are mainly to blame.
"This creates political pressure for ill-advised and disproportionate
policies such as the culling or harassment of wild birds and the destruction of
wetland habitats," Barbieri said.
"We need to present an accurate and balanced view which acknowledges that
there are a number of factors whose relative importance can change, depending on
the area or outbreak concerned," he said.
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