[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: Achtung chickens

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Achtung chickens

Hong Kong takes desperate measures by outlawing chicken breeding within its territory while farmers take the brunt.

As Avian flu hysteria spreads globally albeit slowly, Hong Kong is the first to take a hard line approach by forbidding anyone within the SAR to raise chickens. The government kicks off this initiative with a 3 week long slaughter of over a million chickens. No doubt this decision coincided with the ending of Lunar New Year festivities.
The WHO however still stresses HN51 (and other variants) still cannot effeciently affect humans, but does insist it will become a pending epidemic if we do not act soon.
Last Saturday, Greece & Italy reported swans carrying the virus. Yet Health Minister Francesco Storace (Italy) dosen't seem to be scared: 'I don't think we in Italy are in the habit of cooking swans and eating them.'
On a personal note: chickens play an important role in Chinese culture. In Astrology the chicken (or rooster) represents energy & vitality maybe because it used to be nature's alarm clock? I've been seeing many distraught farmers reacting to this situation. Although it may seem funny that they have 'emotions' for their poultry friends, we must not forget that chickens are the main symbol of chinese agriculture and food. When visiting family/friends for dinner it is customary to bring a cooked chicken, it is also used during certain festivals as particularly featured in this year's Lunar New Year.
But what will this initiative do in the long run? HK imports 70% of its poultry from the mainland and they're not exactly well known for safety regulations (no offence). Considering the speed at which the virus spreads and given HK's proximity to the mainland, the odds don't look too good in stamping out Avian altogether.