Archive for H5N2

H5Nx Marks Big Poultry’s Spot

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2016 by rgwallace

h5n8-japan-2The causes of the horrible fire that swept through an illegally squatted warehouse in Oakland last week, killing 36 concertgoers, are, as with other disasters, a political football.

Clearly, as city officials were quick to point out, the “Ghost Ship” warehouse floated on illegal construction: no sprinklers and a “boarded-up upstairs exit, a cobbled-together stairway made partly of wooden pallets, propane tanks used to heat water, and piles of flammable debris.”

The community outrage and hurt require a sacrifice, and attention has been thrown on the checkered history of Ghost Ship founder Derick Almena, who “paid $4,500 a month to rent the warehouse, and would then charge tenants $500 to $1,500 for rent — as many as 20 people at a time.” The district attorney reportedly is drawing up a murder warrant.

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Banksgiving

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2016 by rgwallace

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dayton-turkeyThe explosion, at last, lies down. As if, though–the two drug enthusiasts who got in and out of its last moment insist–out of pity, rather than because it must. –China Miéville (2015)

A season’s greetings may mark as much a farewell as a salutation.

By a full-throated onamonapia we channel our near-national bird, which, when the other national holiday is upon us, is suddenly lined up for death in the millions. And gobble gobble we continue throughout the day–and into the new year–gnawing Viking drumsticks while watching Meat Packers bludgeon Rust Belt Steelers into what for the team owners are lucrative cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

By way of zooarchaeologist Stanley Olsen, Heather Horn dates our enthusiasm back before the country, to the Mayans, who among others domesticated the ocellated turkey long before the arrival of the conquistadors. Raising them caught on so wildly in Europe that the birds–mislabeled Turkey in origin by explorers who once thought themselves in India–were brought back to America by colonial Patriots bound for Massachusetts and Virginia.

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Business as Unusual

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2016 by rgwallace

Chicken in a business suit

John Huston told me he and [Orson] Welles were always trying to stick each other with the tab and once faked simultaneous heart attacks at a restaurant in Paris. –Jim Harrison (1988)

Some of you here in the Twin Cities may have noticed this past year the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis paper, has published almost its entire run of articles on the outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 in its business section.

The placement is telling. It reminds us the paper, owned by agribusinessman Glen Taylor, views the virus, killing 50 million poultry across 21 states, as a matter for food companies and investors. It seems the ecologies and epidemiologies in which we are all embedded are to be treated as mere externalities to the matter at hand–the trade in commodities.

An update last week, published–where else?–in the business section, reprinted unsupported declarations about the origins of the outbreak, claims the newspaper turned into facts by year-long repetition. The virus originated in Asia. Migratory waterfowl brought it here and spread it. Farmer error is to blame for the outbreak. Anything but the poultry sector itself.

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Yellow Science Journalism

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2016 by rgwallace

Apparently there’s a liberal equivalent to Donald Trump’s Sinophobic expediency.

In a New York Times op-ed yesterday, Sonia Shah, the author of a forthcoming book on pandemics, presents a nationalistic disease ecology, characterizing avian influenza as the dirty Chinese’s fault.

As if the industrial model of production didn’t originate in the States.

As if migratory birds haven’t been transporting influenza strains across the Bering Sea for thousands of years, even as those patterns also shift in response to environmental changes global and local. Continue reading

Poultry of Minerva

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by rgwallace

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Peter Shea, the Bill Moyers of the Twin Cities, for The Bat of Minerva show.

What began as a kind of intellectual portraiture, in which we explored how I got studying the evolution of infectious disease, spiraled into about as broad a thesis on the nature of disease and agriculture and prospects for a just future as I have compiled in one place to date.

The reason–and there is a reason–we talked in such a noisy place is revealed halfway through the interview.

For those night owls out there–or nocturnal bats or poultry off their counter-seasonal photoperiods–the show will be broadcasted locally Sunday midnight (Saturday night) on Metro Cable Network/Channel 6

Los Lechugueros

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by rgwallace

People have been too kind. Online responses and an audience in Minneapolis have met my H5N2 commentary with the kind of reaction that marks as much a change in the cultural weather as anything in my presentation.

Stateside the outbreak has inspired many a suddenly impertinent child across scientific circles, op-ed pages and supermarkets. A growing murmur acknowledges the emperors of agribusiness are stripping themselves naked of their own rationale. The sector’s apologists, many wily as can be, and paid handsomely for the dupe, are appearing increasingly peddlers of an invisible cloth.

If I have added anything to the dawning realizations already underway, beyond whatever technical support conjoining epidemiology, evolution and economics, it is my lil’ bit in helping engender a sense, to turn around Gramsci, that the old order is dying and a new can indeed be born.

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Bidding Up Bird Flu

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , on June 22, 2015 by rgwallace

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.