The Lantern Books Blog
Welcome to the Lantern Books Blog!
You are currently viewing all entries in the Bird Flu
category. Click here for the blog front page.
May 11, 2010 1:31pm
Dr. Michael Greger
is the author of Bird Flu
, and an expert on how extreme animal confinement is a big cause of the growth of pandemic disease. We received this note from Dr. Greger today:
Me Against the Mob
My four-against-one debate at the Congressional Quarterly forum on zoonotic disease was just posted on the website of the Animal Health Institute, the industry trade group spearheading the fight to maintain the status quos on antibiotic use in farm animals. Should I be surprised that they edited out a number of my comments (and as far as I can tell none of anyone else’s)?
I was able to splice in audio of some of the sections they removed, though, into a compilation video I put together of my participation in the forum. You can download my 20 minute video at http://bit.ly/gregerantibiotics.
The 3 hour (but doctored) video can be found on Healthy Animals.
April 29, 2009 4:44pm
It all starts in factory farms...
I just got a cheery note from our friend Dr. Michael Greger, who happens to be the author of Bird Flu
, and an expert on flu pandemics. His email said that the World Health Organization
just upped the status of the swine flu outbreak to a 5, which "means the next flu pandemic has officially begun."
Being a New Yorker who is familiar with terrorist alert levels, but knowing nothing of WHO pandemic levels, I'm assuming 5 is the equivalent of red.
July 28, 2008 10:27am
Chickens behind bars.
At the HSUS annual conference
last weekend, I had a long conversation with a woman about backyard chickens.
In the environmental movement, and slow & local food movements there are more and more people interested in keeping backyard chickens. If you're an egg eater, this is a step in the right direction, since it keeps your money from going to factory farms, avoids some of the evils of transport, etc. Sadly, there are still problems. A lot of backyard chicken keepers order chicks through the mail from breeders. Breeders, bad. Sending live animals through the mail, bad. And, the most compelling reason for vegetarians and ethical people of all stripes: There's still no use for the male birds. They're killed, routinely and cruelly. They have no value. No matter how well you treat those egg-producing chickens in your yard, their family members have been killed because they can't "produce."
February 6, 2007 2:20pm
Not a serious problem?
A recent outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the UK
has people aflutter, but not the ones you’d think. Consumers are worrying and five nations so far have banned imports of British poultry. Birds, of course, are paying a heavy price. Nearly 160,000 turkeys – the full avian population of an intensive production facility in England – were slaughtered. There may be more of that to come: hundreds of millions of chickens, ducks and geese have been killed in Asia in efforts to “contain” the flu.
But as Michael Gregor argues persuasively in his book, Bird Flu
(yes, it’s published by Lantern), it is almost certainly the modern confinement systems used to raise billions of birds a year for human consumption that are fueling the flu. David Nabarro, the UN’s Coordinator for Bird Flu, isn’t on the same page. Commenting on the UK outbreak,
he rather blithely stated: “We've got to learn to...not see it [avian flu] as a serious problem and just get on with normal poultry-rearing and consumption in the way that we tend to enjoy, and just see this as just one of those things that has to be dealt with through normal process." Huh? What, him worry? Or look inside those battery and broiler sheds?
“Savvy enough” to see that bird flu was being dealt with was the take of the CEO of the UK conglomerate whose turkeys were slaughtered. The poultry industry would be fine, he added, according to the BBC.
How hard it is to see the forests for the woodchips. If industry, government and international agencies won’t deal with the links between bird flu and the conditions in which “modern” meat birds are raised, we’ll have to get plenty savvy on our own. And soon. Billions of birds, domestic and wild, are at risk. So are billions of people. If that isn’t a clarifying moment, I’m not sure what is. An international conference on vaccination of poultry for the H5N1 virus will take place in Verona in March.
November 7, 2006 10:57am
So a chicken goes into a bar one day and sneezes....
I went along to a stand-up comedy club
(where else?) on West 78th Street in Manhattan on Thursday last week, to hear our very own Michael Greger do his gig on Bird Flu
, and how it threatens to bring down civilization as we know it. His powerpoint presentation has evolved, like a virus indeed, since I saw it a couple of months ago, and features moving (in both senses of the word) footage of confined animals and talking heads. Like his excellent book
, the powerpoint had people amused and then a kind of "oh shit" pall fell over the room, as it began to sink in just how serious the situation was. Michael, however, ended his talk with a Jon Stewart sketch on the flu that, somehow, made it all seem that much more surreally real.
What was pleasing about the talk were how many professionals (MDs, emergency management folks, risk assessment people) there were in the audience, and the fact that Michael sold twenty books to the assembled fifty or so members of the audience. What was scary was that nothing, except for the clarity of Michael's presentation, had changed.
October 31, 2006 8:35am
According to the Associated Press
, scientists have discovered a new strain of the bird flu virus H5N1 that has been causing such havoc in Indonesia and China. Unfortunately, this strain is immune to the vaccines that were being developed for the original strain of H5N1. Confused? No need to be. Why not visit our very own Michael Greger's brand new website for his brand new book, Bird Flu
For those of you too cheap to buy the damn book, you can now read it in its entirety online, follow the latest developments, and catch up on Michael's speaking schedule. It's all at www.birdflubook.com
. The site was developed by our web department, LanternMedia
, and we're giving a special shout-out to Laura for an excellent job. The site, like the disease, is evolving and mutating, so be sure to check back often.
For you New Yorkers, Michael will be speaking in NYC on Thursday November 2
. He has a powerpoint that will knock your socks off and promises to be more disturbing and thrilling an experience than watching Saw III
September 22, 2006 6:28am
A style for each season
's long awaited book Bird Flu
is being printed as we speak, and will be available for sale
in mere days. OK, a month. Lucky ducks who work at publishing companies get their hands on these things early!
Not being the type to stockpile for the millennium, and having bent my ears around my mother's bird flu fears since the topic hit the news, I planned to ignore this predicted crisis (along with the rise in people being pushed onto the subway tracks and cells phone causing brain cancer). But Dr. Greger's enthusiasm for the coming pandemic is catchy, and I had to find out why he's pressuring me to buy drugs
I was coming down with a doozie of a cold, and hacked and sneezed my way through the part where Greger describes viruses leaping 40 feet through the air. I was dizzy and pressurized for the part about blood shooting out the noses of the infected, and how people turned purple from blood under their skin (1918 influenza references). I was squeezed next to a fellow commuter messily eating a chicken sandwich while reading how even vegetarians are at risk due to poor sanitation.
It seems I'm surviving Bird Flu
. I don't want to jinx myself, but I am feeling a little bit better today. I'm launching into Section 3 (Pandemic Preparedness
), but if all continues as it has, I'm promoting this book as a horror instead of health sciences.
March 31, 2006 8:23am
Scarier than your average bird
OK, so it's not really about Bird Flu, but check out the trailer for Poultrygeist
, a Troma movie that combines the cinematic refinement of Bride of Chucky
(or should that be Bride of Clucky?) with the subtlety and sensitivity of Russ Meyer
and delicate comedy of John Waters
. The film tells the story of what happens when a fast-food KFC-type franchise is built on top of a Native American burial ground. The spirits of the dead Native Americans and chickens combine. The way these beings from beyond wreak havoc fairly represents what Bird Flu might do to us consumptive, idiotic humans. Here's some official guff about it and the inevitable sequel:
"Night of the Chicken Dead!, a fromage to Takashi Miike, is the next planned offering in Troma Entertainment's thirty-plus-years-long tradition of wildly successful low-budget, high-concept, one-of-a-kind cinematic creations designed to satisfy the hunger for reel entertainment. Poultrygeist! is directed by Lloyd Kaufman, creator of The Toxic Avenger, and shooting has wrapped as of late August 2005."
Don't say I didn't warn you.
March 30, 2006 10:13am
Bird of Doom
More grist to the Bird Flu mill from an organization called GRAIN, which blames the Bird Flu epidemic on concentrated poultry operations. Here is a release on the subject from Farmed Animal Net
A report published by GRAIN, an agriculture sustainability group based in Spain, says that wild and migratory birds are being blamed for avian influenza when large concentrated poultry farms are the primary cause. The report notes that international groups such as the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are emphasizing control of wild birds and "backyard" flocks. However, GRAIN makes the case that although wild birds may transmit avian influenza, the concentration of animals and lack of biodiversity on large chicken farms "amplifies" the disease. The report states, "Backyard farms can act as reservoirs, as the FAO puts it, harbouring bird flu beyond the reach of authorities until it eventually finds its way into intensive poultry operations where the disease amplifies and potentially evolves to more highly pathogenic forms with the potential for transmission between humans."
March 29, 2006 10:40am
The Times gets Bird Flu
Bird Flu may not have hit New York yet, but it's hit the New York Times
. The Gray Lady ran a bunch of articles in yesterday's Science Times section. You can read this one
from a skeptic who believes that the threat, while serious, is probably overblown, and this one
from David Nabarro at the U.N., who is "quite scared" about what could happen. The Times
weighs in with its own assessment
of how serious the risk is.
If those don't satisfy you, you can read about the last major pandemic
that killed a lot of people, in 1918, and read about the anatomy of the virus and what scientists are trying to do
to curtail it. You can also read
about the choices health officials are likely to have to make, and find out just how much more miserable the lives and deaths of chickens
March 24, 2006 8:58am
Parrot with unknown companion
Not strictly on the subject of bird flu, it is true, but folks in New York City and the surrounds might be interested in attending the Manhattan Bird Club
, which claims to support efforts to preserve parrots and birds in the wild, and "seeks to inform and influence people toward a more humane consideration for avians presently in captivity, an unnatural condition for them to be in."
The Club is hosting an event to discuss zoonotic ("transmitted by animals") diseases as they relate to birds—something that all of us concerned with bird flu should be paying a lot of attention to at the moment. Here are the details:
March 23, 2006 10:35am
Michael Greger: Unlikely prophet of doom
I generally don't go in for apocalypticism (publishing aside). Something horrific happens, and life miraculously goes on. However, I've been shaken to the soles of my MooShoes
shoes by what Michael Greger
is writing in his forthcoming Lantern book, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching
Michael's book has 3,100 references (and counting) from the most mainstream, unimpeachable sources you can imagine: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
, the Centers for Disease Control
, the National Institutes of Health
, and other national and international bodies. Not to put to fine a point on it, but the leaders of these bodies, and the scientists who work for them, are saying quite simply: Bird Flu is coming; human-to-human transmission in some form is inevitable; and the casualty rates are going to be astronomical. (And when I say "casualty," I'm talking about dead bodies.)
In the next few weeks, in preparation for the book's publication (it's getting fact-checked and its references being double- and treble-checked at the moment), I'll be providing you with sneak peeks at what Michael has discovered. It is, without doubt, the most alarming book I have ever read, and essential reading as well.