Animal rights groups use bird flu to push vegetarianism

02-06-2006 | |
Animal rights groups use bird flu to push vegetarianism

Animal welfare groups are using the expected arrival of bird flu in to the United States of America to push their campaigns against large chicken and egg factory farms and persuade more Americans to stop eating meat.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to launch a billboard campaign next week in Arkansas, home of poultry giant Tyson Foods. The billboard will show a person dressed as a chicken brandishing a machine gun with a slogan “Payback Time! Birdflu Kills. Go Vegetarian”

Animal rights groups accuse the global poultry industry of being the root cause of the bird flu crisis and other virulent viruses. Claiming that cramped factory conditions, chicken manure and animal feed encourage the spread of infections in chicken houses and in the air.

However, the National Chicken Council (NCC), which represents 95% of US commercial chicken producers, has mounted its own public relations campaign. It says that the H5N1 virus cannot be contracted by humans by eating cooked chicken and its members are already testing flocks before they go to market and enter the food chain.

NCC spokesman Richard Lobb said that in Thailand, modern factory flocks did not contract bird flu whereas village chickens which run free got it from wild birds.

“So I think the animal rights group in that respect are completely invalid,” Lobb said.

The H5N1 bird flu virus is widely expected to reach the US sometime this year.