Chicken Dinner – the Consequences

| 7 November 2022
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It’s a major driver of wild bird losses

Catastrophic declines in wild birds are likely if we don’t change the way animals are farmed, scientists have warned.

Wild birds are being killed by highly pathogenic strains of bird flu emerging from large-scale poultry farms. Typically, these more dangerous strains develop in commercial poultry, evolving from low pathogenic viruses found in the wild.

The H5N1 virus currently circulating the globe originated in a commercial goose farm in China in 1996, spread rapidly in poultry in Asia and spilled over into wild birds in 2005. For many wild birds, already threatened by loss of habitat and climate change, the additional threat of bird flu will have a devastating impact.

Over the past 50 years, the global population of poultry has grown from six to 35 billion. “These large livestock populations, which are connected through trade, form reservoirs where infectious diseases can evolve and spill over into wildlife” says Thijs Kuiken, professor in the department of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam.

Kuiken T and Cromie R. 2022. Protect wildlife from livestock diseases. Science. 378, 6615.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

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