I think it’s clear that the H5N1 “bird flu” is coming and is, in fact, here to stay. It’s longevity and continuing spread remind me of the West Nile Virus more than a seasonal influenza.
While I am sure that the avian kingdom is in no danger, and that this is not the dinosaur die-off of the eon, I’d like to point something out: we’re breeding for failure.
When I lived in Upstate New York, near Binghamton, the hilltop around our house was mostly fallow fields and woods. There was a flock of turkeys that had made its home on our property. I think ‘herd’ when I say ‘flock,’ because they were mostly ground-bound, and took some kind of odd joy in running in circles around our house just after dawn.
Okay, they’re not the most brilliant birds, but compared to the ones I worked with when living on a kibbutz, these were Einsteins. The latter were SO dumb that when it was going to rain we had to bring them inside, because while they, like their wild counterparts, would face the sky and open their beaks to drink, they lacked the part of the gene involving closing said orifice before they drowned. If they didn’t first fall over from the absurd weight in what humans call the turkey breast. These were the ‘Pomela’ Andersons (or Loni’s) of the bird world.
When H5N1 hits, it’s the wild birds that will bear the brunt of the illness. We humans will safely ensconce our stupid, bred-to-be-eaten meat puppets in hermetically sealed havens (where, after x number of weeks, they’ll be taken out back and metaphorically shot). This will further reduce the spread and tenacity of the affected wild species, and further weaken our already shaky wild ecology.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in eating whatever can’t argue its way out of the cooking pot. But I am concerned that in this mechanist society, where everything gets turned into a time-and-motion industry to push for the bottom dollar, that we are selling the global gene pool short when breeding for eatability instead of viability.
I’ll pay more for bigger bones, smaller “breasts” and healthier, more sturdy, animals. Ones that more relate to the ones that charged around my house at dawn than the ones, raised in cages, that are as close to sessile as animals can get.