Green Party in England and Wales
Moves to tackle bird flu inadequate
Government fails to ban bird fairs despite mounting risk of bird flu
outbreak in Britain
The Green Party in England and Wales today condemned the Government's
failure to order the cancellation of "bird fairs", such as the forthcoming
Staffordshire Bird Fair planned for the 5th March. The risk is that bringing
birds together from all over the country could cause the H5N1 Avian ("bird
flu") virus to be spread widely among the domestic bird population.
Dr Richard Lawson, Green Party Spokesperson on Avian flu, comments: "The
Government has completely failed to learn the lessons of the Foot and Mouth
outbreak. In 2001, the FMD virus was spread as animals were driven to and
from markets across the country. The Department for Food, Environment and
Agricultural Affairs (DEFRA) must act swiftly on Avian flu. These bird fairs
already have dubious standards in terms of bird welfare but to allow one to
go ahead at precisely the time that we are expecting an outbreak of the H5N1
Avian virus in the UK is the height of folly.
Dr Lawson was the Green Party's campaigner for vaccination during the FMD
outbreak. With others, he was deeply critical of MAFF/DEFRA's handling of
that outbreak, and the vaccination policy that the Green Party was
advocating then is now adopted by DEFRA.
He is in favour of vaccination of birds against H5N1 as far as is
practicable, monitoring of airliner cabin air for viruses, a Stay Home If
Unwell policy, and is researching a treatment for the cytokine storm that
kills in pandemic flu.
The Green Party stresses that H5N1 Avian is a threat only to birds and a few
unfortunate poultry keepers; it is the potential mutation that forms a
threat of a general flu outbreak, and it may turn out that this is only a
rather severe flu as occurred in 1957 and 1968, not necessarily the very
serious mutation that occurred in 1918.