EU ban on conventional cages and its consequences on egg production

“The EU Legislators did not fully consider what impacts the banning of conventional cages would have on the future development of egg production and the resulting egg deficit.” With this quote of Professor Hans Windhorst underlined in an interview with Terry Evans (ThePoultrySite, 2009) what he had predicted during his presentation at the ISAH meeting in St. Malo, France in 2004.

Given the ongoing discussions on cage systems in othe parts of the word, Professor Windhorst expert opinion (although expressed in 2009) is still extremely interesting.

He pointed out that the switch from conventional cages to enriched cages, floor management or free-range systems would inevitably lead to higher production costs. Economists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have shown that production costs in enriched cages would increase by some eight per cent over those of conventional cages. In the German small colony system, the extra costs would be of the order of 10 per cent, while switching to the barn system in the Netherlands would result in costs rising by 21 per cent.

“On the cost of switching away from conventional cages, an investment as high as €6.1 billion would be required. In Germany alone, some €612 million would be needed to meet the existing legal regulations by the end of 2009.”

He believes that it is not realistic to assume that this capital would be available under present financial and economic conditions, and he wonders how the EU would react when the member countries failed to fulfil the requirements of the Directive.

He observed that it was obvious that legislators in the EU as well as at the country level in Germany did not fully consider what impacts the banning of conventional cages would have on the future development of egg production and the resulting egg deficit.

Because German retailers would not stock eggs from the small colony system, large egg producers in that country realised that they would not be able to switch to floor management systems by the end of 2009.

This would result in “Financial losses for production companies, higher consumer prices and increasing imports of shell eggs and egg products,” Professor Windhorst concluded in his interview with ThePoultrySite in 2009.

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First Human Becomes Infected By H6N1 Bird Flu In Taiwan

A new bird flu strain called H6N1 has infected its first human. Taiwanese researchers are reporting the new bird flu appeared in a 20-year-old woman from central Taiwan. The woman had been working in a delicatessen before she began experiencing flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath. She was then hospitalized in May 2013.

She has since fully recovered following treatment with antiviral drugs. The woman had not traveled abroad three months prior to the infection, and she said she had not been in close contact with poultry or wild birds. Interviews with 36 relatives and friends of the woman found no other cases of H6N1. Researchers say the source of her infection remains unknown.

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Question: When is it acceptable to kill animals? An introduction to Animal Welfare Ethics

Presentation on animal welfare ethics, by Prof. Leopoldo Estol Univ. del Salvador Buenos Aires ARGENTINA.

Vets make ethical decisions all the time so need to know about ethics in order to make them well. There are arguments for granting animals some form of moral worth. There are various ethical theories which attempt to address the issues of animals and their treatment. Perhaps the most difficult question raised in animal ethics is when is it acceptable to kill animals?

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The ethical food movement: What does it mean for the role of science and scientists in current debates about animal agriculture?

Contemporary animal agriculture is increasingly criticized on ethical grounds. Consequently, current policy and legislative discussions have become highly controversial as decision makers attempt to reconcile concerns about the impacts of animal production on animal welfare, the environment, and on the efficacy of antibiotics required to ensure human health with demands for abundant, affordable, safe food.

Clearly, the broad implications for US animal agriculture of what appears to be a burgeoning movement relative to ethical food production must be understood by animal agriculture stakeholders. The potential effects of such developments on animal agricultural practices, corporate marketing strategies, and public perceptions of the ethics of animal production must also be clarified.

To that end, it is essential to acknowledge that people’s beliefs about which food production practices are appropriate are tied to diverse, latent value systems. Thus, relying solely on scientific information as a means to resolve current debates about animal agriculture is unlikely to be effective.

The problem is compounded when scientific information is used inappropriately or strategically to advance a political agenda. Examples of the interface between science and ethics in regards to addressing currently contentious aspects of food animal production (animal welfare, antimicrobial use, and impacts of animal production practices on the environment) are reviewed.

The roles of scientists and science in public debates about animal agricultural practices are also examined. It is suggested that scientists have a duty to contribute to the development of sound policy by providing clear and objectively presented information, by clarifying misinterpretations of science, and by recognizing the differences between presenting data vs. promoting their own value judgments in regard to how and which data should be used to establish policy.

Finally, the role of the media in shaping public opinions on key issues pertaining to animal agriculture is also discussed.

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With H7N9 vaccine, China flexes scientific muscle

The Diplomate online, November 7, 2013, by Tyler Roney. On Tuesday, a three-year-old boy was diagnosed with the dreaded H7N9 bird flu in Guangdong Province in southern China, and some are warning that more cases are on the way as the temperature drops. Previous bouts of flu hysteria and panic resulted in nothing more than small outbreaks; as such, there is little reason to believe that these most recent warnings will be any different. However, in many ways, the H7N9 problem is China-specific, which has allowed it to flex its scientific muscles.

Last month saw serious advances on the H7N9 front, with China’s contributions outpacing many other nations, in no small part because China is on the front lines of bird flu outbreaks. In fact, China announced a vaccine for the H7N9 bird flu virus late last month. This is an impressive feat considering that they only started research on the vaccine in April when they isolated the H7N9 virus via a throat swab from an infected patient. So far, the vaccine has been successful on ferrets, which can spread the virus via respiratory droplets—a discovery also made by Chinese scientists.

All but one of this year’s cases of H7N9 have been in mainland China (the other was next door in Taiwan), so China has a unique interest in stamping out the virus. As of the end of October, the National Health and Family Planning Commission confirmed 136 cases and 45 fatalities from the deadly bird flu strain. While that may seem a small sum, it means the virus has a 33.1 percent fatality rate. China is treating this disease seriously and is devoting ample resources to what it considers to be a potential pandemic. True or not, it’s an excellent example of the world’s newest research powerhouse.

With that in mind, the muscle and money that China puts into virology is being backed by brains and innovation. In fact, it’s no longer just China’s response and control measures that are making a difference; it’s research bravado. British newspaper The Independent published a scathing report in May of this year on China’s intentionally-mutated super flu strains—strains that can be used to better understand and prepare for outbreaks.

It was an understandable response to the end of an international moratorium on such research, and claims were made elsewhere that China didn’t have the biosecurity chops to keep the research in the lab. However, critics such as Lord May of Oxford, who accused China’s researchers of “appalling responsibility,” may soon find that China is well on its way to a new level of viral defense. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the risk is worth preventing a pandemic; many others agree.

Making reassortants via plasmid-based reverse genetics is a method used around the world, but foreign newspapers mainly reported one thing: that China is purposely creating super bugs to wipe out mankind. True, Chinese scientists were and are creating super bugs, particularly hybrids of H5N1 and H1N1 viruses, they were doing so to learn more about them.

For all the bluster, this research method is yielding serious results—not to mention vaccines. And, with China trailblazing its way out of bird flu frenzy, one wonders what else the Middle Kingdom can do with its newly-found scientific might.

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