Bidding Up Bird Flu

Twenty-one thousand turkeys in Otter Tail County. Forty-five thousand in Meeker County. Fifty-thousand in Kandiyohi. Fifty-six thousand in Redwood. Sixty-seven thousand in Stearns. Do I hear 76,000 in Stearns?

Here’s the talk on H5N2 I gave at the Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy June 11. Although it’s only a half-hour, I manage to cover a lot.

I’d say there are two key take-homes. First, by dint of its industrial model, rather than a bit of bad luck, the poultry sector is well placed for selecting for and sustaining outbreaks of virulent influenza.

Second, externalizing the costs of such outbreaks–and other sources of health, ecological and economic damage–lards the sector with moral hazards of perhaps one day apocalyptic proportions.

Like an outbreak that kills a billion people.

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3 Responses to “Bidding Up Bird Flu”

  1. So next we should collectively look in a mirror and reflect on our personal poultry purchasing habits? If those chicken nuggets from a multinational restaurant chain we passed on the way home came from a bird in VERY large barn, are we not also part of the problem?

    Thanks Rob, quite a bit here to chew on… literally and figuratively. 🙂

  2. rgwallace Says:

    Thank you kindly, Clem!

    Clearly consumer choice structures the marketplace, but I don’t think demand is the panacea many in the food movement treat it. First, ‘choice’ is routinely producer-led, and not just by advertisements. In controlling the means of production, capital routinely folds in its program all along the commodity chain. It squeezes value, yes, out of consumers, but also off indigenous lands, devalued labor and bought-and-sold governments.

    So switching product choices–which I don’t entirely dismiss–plays the game by rules capital has set. In its opposition even a conscious consumerism recapitulates the individualist mindset underlying the present dysfunction. Collective traps require collective interventions (beyond looking at our collective mirrors).

  3. […] in the drafting of nutritional guidelines • Playing polyanna on bird flu, and ignoring the systemic problems of this latest outbreak is but a symptom (while at the same time, recent reports suggest that under […]

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