- Posted January 28, 2014 by
Seoul, South Korea
KOREA’S AVIAN FLU EPIDEMIC: LIVE BURIALS ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ FOR CALLUS GOVERNMENT
STATEMENT ON KOREA’S AVIAN FLU EPIDEMIC: CARE CONDEMNS CRUEL LIVE BURIALS IN RESPONSE TO BIRD FLU
By CARE and Action for Animals
CARE has learned that the Korean government is expanding its "cull" of domesticated birds, which began in North Jeolla Province, to Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces in response to more suspected cases of avian influenza. # Video footage and photographs clearly show animals being buried alive in mass numbers, as in 2011 when similar scenes made international news.
By burying animals alive, Korea is ignoring its own Animal Protection Act as well as international standards set by the OIE for the killing of animals for disease control purposes. #
As an animal rights organization, CARE does not condone the use of animals for food; however, we demand that the government meet international standards and put an immediate end to the live burials.
In response to a widely reported statement that the avian influenza virus poses no risk to human health, we believe such reassurances could create a false sense of security. The great influenza pandemic# of 1918 began with a "livestock" disease; most authorities believe it was an avian influenza virus that mutated and became a super-virus. # As long as humans raise other animals for food, humans will be exposed to viruses with the potential to mutate in the same way. Exposure could take place at the farm or slaughterhouse, or in the kitchen as a result of handling raw flesh.#
[tl4]There seems to be some debate about whether the virus jumped from birds to humans directly, or from birds to pigs to humans, and on what continent: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088561/pdf/TB011857.pdf
[tl5]See http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en; statement about cooked flesh not being a transmission risk factor is usually quoted out of context. More important points in the statement are the risks to humans of handling living or dead birds (inevitable as long as the industry continues to exist), and the fact that avian flu has pandemic potential.
The live burial of livestock is nothing new, here in South Korea. Even after receiving major international backlash in 2011, South Korea picks up were it left off.
In 2011, during a Mouth and Foot disease outbreak the South Korean's government allowed the mass culling of pigs by means of live burials, something that was covered extensively by CNN.
Now, in response to the recent AI outbreak the Korean government is once again using live burials as a means to an end. As quarantine authorities order a culling of more than 20,000 ducks.
CARE (Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, Action for Animals and other animal protection groups are demanding the government to stop the mass slaughter of these birds, expand it's human resources and budget, and to enforce current policies and establish new ones.
Here is the public statement made by CARE and Action for Animals:
STATEMENTON KOREA’S AVIAN FLU EPIDEMIC AND THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE
By CARE and Action for Animals
The Korean government should put an immediate end to the mass slaughter of birds and instead expand the budget for additional human resources to reform the nation’s cruel factory farming industry.
Blaming migratory birds
The government has initiated another mass slaughter in response to an outbreak of avian influenza. Such outbreaks occur every two to three years, and each time the Korean government responds with a cruel mass slaughter in which animals are buried alive to save time. International condemnation of the practice led the Korean government to establish standard operating procedures regarding humane slaughter in 2013, but the government is not following its own guidelines. Whenever there is an outbreak of avian influenza, the government blames migratory birds for spreading the virus and encourages people to cook the meat before eating it. Nothing has changed since the last outbreak.
The Korean government is blaming migratory birds for spreading the avian influenza virus: numerous media reports state that more than 1,000 spectacled teals (members of a wild duck species also known as Baikal teals or Formosa teals) suddenly collapsed and died near the Dongrim Reservoir in Seongnae Township. The reservoir is about 10 kilometers away from the farm in Gochang County, North Jeolla Province, where this year’s first outbreak was identified. In a press release issued January 18, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture claimed that avian influenza had killed 1,000 wild ducks; however, 20 days later the statement was modified and the revised number was only 100. It came out later that the death toll for wild birds was only 70—that number includes 20 spectacled teals, as well as black scoters, whooper swans and bean geese.
This shows that the government is not being honest with the public. There are still more than 20,000 spectacled teals living near the reservoir and moving approximately 30 to 40 kilometers a day. It is impossible to prevent disease by seeking to control wildlife populations. The root cause of this epidemic is factory farming, and the only solution is to change systems within the industry.
It is a well-known fact that migratory birds do not normally fall victim to avian influenza. Factory farms, which crowd animals into tiny spaces and subject them to incredible stress, are ideal breeding grounds for viruses. Animals kept in that environment are susceptible to infection, pneumonia, skin burns and eczema from constant exposure to methane and ammonia because they live in their own feces and urine. We ask the Korean government to take a step towards the radical reform of factory farming. The cruel mass slaughter of animals is never going to stop without meaningful change from the government.