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What’s the Bird Flu News — “Millions Dead” or “Eggs Prices Could Increase”?

May 4, 2015 by Leave a Comment


In media coverage of the bird flu outbreak, reporters have delivered the news that million hens have been “destroyed” as though they were delivering the weather report — with virtually no emotion. In fact, the mass extermination has not been treated as news at all. It has been provided as background information to what media outlets regard as the real news: the impact of the flu deaths on on egg prices, egg exports and human health.

AP LA-Times USA-today

The media’s disregard for what, in a just world, would have been THE news – “Millions Dead!” – reflects the larger problem that society deems farm animals as commodities and objects instead of sentient beings. If millions of humans were, through no fault of their own, stricken with a virus and killed, the media would report on the tragedy around the clock for weeks, and they would do so with emotion.

Chicken cull in Hong Kong (photo: Philippe Lopez

Chicken cull in Hong Kong (photo: Philippe Lopez

Humans are the only animals who are destroying the planet, yet society has brainwashed us into thinking that we’re superior to those who live in harmony with it. We see ourselves as so superior, in fact, that we can kill animals by the millions without taking a moment to reflect on the pain and suffering they endure – which is caused by us.

Humans behave as though in charge of - instead of a part of - the planet.

Humans behave as though in charge of – instead of a part of – the planet.

The irony in this tragedy is that the 5.3 million birds who were killed are lucky compared to those who are forced to live. There are some fates worse than death, and spending one’s life intensively confined in a factory farm is one of them.

battery cage hens

The vast majority of egg laying hens spend their lives in cages so small that they can’t spread their wings.

In its bird flu coverage, the media also glanced over the conditions on factory farms that facilitate disease transmission. When thousands of animals are stuffed into sheds with no space to move, pathogens that enter spread quickly. Shouldn’t the media report on these conditions, which the industry intentionally hides, so that the public can make informed decisions about what (and who) they purchase at the grocery store?

Bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 (Photo by ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)

Bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 (Photo by ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)

The infectious diseases, mass slaughter, public health risks, cruelty and environmental devastation wrought by animal agriculture could be altogether eliminated if people adopted a plant-based diet. Perhaps renowned author Jonathan Safran Foer said it best, “Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?”

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. CharlesTor says:

    The USDA now says that around 3 million birds were affected in the Iowa facility — down from a previous estimate of 5 million.

  2. Marion MacGillivray says:

    The way all fish, all poultry, and all farm animals are treated today is terrifying and barbaric. We do not need to raise, kill and eat others to live a healthy fulfilling life. If we provided all young children with the facts about what they are being offered to eat I believe they would almost to a one choose not to eat others. That has been my experience with the children who were made aware. Most people who eat other animals, fish and poultry absolutely refuse to see films about how these sentient beings are treated. Why?? Seemingly because it is too horrifying and would put many off of eating other beings. That could make their lives challenging, and they would no longer be one of the masses. Why is that so terrifying to so many people? Many mainstream magazines contain articles about how humans are so connected to dogs and cats – the latest article is in Scientific American MIND May/June 2015 issue. Time to write and have published articles on how humans are so connected to pigs, lambs, cows, sheep, etc. We need to be the voice for all those whose cries go unheard.

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