GM chickens "an attempted cover up for flawed farming"
And a BBC report quotes Tim Elsdale, an organic farmer in East Sussex, who says it is better to adopt good farming practices to avoid animals getting diseases in the first place than to create GM farm animals.
"We don't suffer much from animal diseases on this farm," says Elsdale. "Organic methods of husbandry doesn't encourage disease if the animals are well spaced enough. They live in a natural environment and they eat normal food then a lot of diseases that are prevalent on conventional farming would not be apparent to us".
GM chickens: 'potentially pose a greater threat to human health' and are 'an attempted cover up for flawed farming'
Soil Association, 14 January 2011
The Soil Association is strongly opposed to the development of GM chickens which are claimed to be genetically engineered to stop them spreading avian influenza. This proposed development does not tackle the underlying cause of serious disease outbreaks linked to industrial chicken production, and it carries the risk of making things worse.
The root cause of the problem is the millions of chickens kept in sheds worldwide, that are often kept alive long enough to reach slaughter age through the use of antibiotics, providing an ideal breeding ground for new, more resistant strains of disease.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said:
"Keeping animals cramped together in inhumane factories encourages the spread of diseases such as bird flu and swine flu. This GM fantasy simply tries to cover up for flawed farming practice. Experience with GM crops shows how quickly resistant super weeds and new insect pests have developed, despite promises from the GM industry that this could not happen.
"Viruses are some of the most rapidly evolving organisms on Earth, and they could rapidly evolve resistance to the GM chickens. In a race to develop new strains, viruses would get there faster than new breeds of GM chickens could be produced. Viruses could even evolve to become more virulent in response to the GM challenge, posing a greater threat to human health."