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Avian Flu Hype

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March 17, 2006
By Pam Killeen

A new multi-billion dollar campaign has been launched in order to promote the sale of yet another vaccine, Roche's drug for treating influenza, Tamiflu. Multinationals such as the pharmaceutical, agricultural and biotech companies all stand to make huge profits over this new “fear and consumption” campaign. If these multinationals have their way, they'll convince us that only they have the answers to all of our problems (whether they're real or created).

With so much frenzy about avian flu in the news, I can’t help but wonder if avian flu would even exist without the cozy relationship between BigPharma and the media. Even with so much opposition to Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical ads, they still continue to flood our television sets. Because BigPharma has so much financial control over the media, it only stands to reason that the news will be biased in their favor. The situation has become so exaggerated that, now, many unsuspecting viewers don’t realize that most news stories are really just ingeniously designed ads. It should come as no surprise to you to realize that news stories about avian flu are just that – ads to promote Tamiflu.

Swine Flu Fiasco

We should all be reminded about the side-effects of the Swine Flu vaccine campaign in 1976. Several hundred people developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome after they were injected with this vaccine. Even healthy 20-year-olds ended up as paraplegics in wheelchairs. Within a few months, claims totaling .3 billion had been filed by victims who had suffered paralysis from the swine flu vaccine. The swine flu episode shows how difficult it is to forecast a pandemic and how damaging a rash response can be. After having inoculated 40 million people for a flu that never came, the vaccine was blamed for 25 deaths. More people died from the vaccine than died from the swine flu itself.

Unfortunately, in any public vaccination campaign, a few unfortunate individuals will suffer harm. It is not right that these individuals should bear these injuries without
compensation from the corporations or the governments which promoted the campaign, but that is invariably what happens.

After the release of Tamiflu, from March 22, 2004 through April 22, 2005, there were 1,184 case reports for adverse reactions posted from sources both domestic and abroad. Nearly 16 percent of the events occurred in children.

The Real Cause of Avian Flu

Some experts agree that there is no medical reason for vaccines. Period. The reality is that if people eat junk food, depleted, denatured food and surround themselves in a toxic environment, they will get sick.

Birds are no different. In a recent report published by Worldwatch, Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry, Danielle Nierenberg points out that when birds are raised in unhygienic confinement operations, they will be more susceptible to illness.

According to Nierenberg, "confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's), or factory farms, account for more than 40 percent of world meat production, up from 30 percent in 1990."

In order to maximize production, confinement animals are force fed foods which are unnatural to their digestive tracts. They are also forced to remain indoors, away from their natural environment.

Further, Nierenberg warns, "Crowded and unhygienic conditions can sicken farm animals and create the perfect environment for the spread of diseases, including outbreaks of avian flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and foot-and-mouth disease."

According to a more recent Worldwatch report, State of the World 2006, “Factory farming is now the fastest growing means of animal production in the world. Industrial systems today generate 74 percent of the world's poultry products, 50 percent of all pork, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs.”

The real disease is something called "Vertical Integration": a few companies controlling our food production, for the purpose of maximizing profits. Factory farming is a side effect of corporate greed. The corporations don't care about food quality; they only care about profits.

According to Nierenberg, "avian flu did not just happen. Instead, avian flu, mad cow disease, and other emerging diseases that can spread from animals to humans are symptoms of a larger change taking place in agriculture. Industrial animal production, or factory farming, is like a wave rippling across the world, swallowing up small farms and indigenous animal breeds and concentrating meat production in the hands of a few large companies."

Operators of these CAFO'S have personally told me about the extremely toxic environment within these bird "jails". The farmers I have spoken with had to quit factory farming after getting sick from the fumes in the CAFO's. I've noticed another common denominator amongst operators of these CAFO's – they absolutely do not eat the chicken (pork, turkey or meat) raised in these conditions. They pasture their own animals and save the meat for their families and friends. They know that meat from pastured animals is healthier because the animals are healthier. This is not rocket science.

Who Else May Profit from the Bird Flu Hype?

BigPharma will not be the only group that will benefit from the avian flu, so will the biotech industry. In order to develop their solution to the avian flu, they are planning to develop and patent a genetically engineered chicken that would be resistant to H5N1 virus. This would only add insult to injury. I don’t know about you but eating a synthetically produced, factory chicken doesn’t sound too appetizing!

If consumers surrender to corporate fear campaigns, and agree to buy their food, they will enable the corporations to continue to destroy the quality of our food and our health. If this happens, then the corporations will stand to make huge profits.

Immunize Yourself with Sauerkraut

Recently, I read a report that chickens that were fed sauerkraut recovered from avian flu. Scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea fed an extract of kimchi, a spicy variation of sauerkraut, to 13 chickens infected with avian flu and 11 of them started to recover. Since that report came out, sales of sauerkraut have skyrocketed.

Scientists said the lactic acid created during fermenting of the kimchi appeared to help the chickens fight the virus. Sauerkraut also contains nutrients such as vitamin C and glutamine, which help support the immune system. In order to fully benefit from eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, ensure that they are unpasteurized. To be sure, you may want to look up how to make your own fermented foods (for more info, go to

Warning - Beware of the FDA!

It seems that if the FDA and BigPharma had their way, there would be only one solution to the avian flu – Tamiflu. Recently, the FDA issued warning letters recently to nine companies marketing what they feel are "bogus" flu products. If natural supplements can help prevent or cure any disease, even the avian flu, and is safe to take, why would they want to block sales of these products? The answer is simple: the FDA is protecting the sales of BigPharma’s products, not the people. Given the relationship between the FDA and BigPharma, is it any wonder that they would try and discredit or shut down companies that have natural flu remedies?

I wouldn't be surprised to see if we will soon see stories discrediting this South Korean study. To go a step further, if sales of sauerkraut continue to rise, will the FDA then threaten to shut down all the producers of sauerkraut, or any naturally fermented food for that matter? Just wait and see. I wouldn't put it past them. If you don’t make your own fermented foods, you may find yourself in a back alley buying black market sauerkraut.

Could Avian Flu be a Blessing in Disguise?
In the words of Joni Mitchell, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Perhaps this Bird Flu Hype will serve as a wake-up call to help the masses realize what we have lost while large corporations have compromised the quality of our food and health.

The good news is that many consumers are rejecting corporate food and are buying their food from farms where food is grown organically and animals are raised on pasture. This shift in supply and demand will help by: 1) bringing local farmers back in business and 2) increasing the quality of our food and health. As this trend continues, CAFO's will disappear; birds will be healthier and the risk for avian flu will also disappear.

One other benefit from this new trend is that consumers will also be healthier. Just imagine what this will do to the profits of the large pharmaceutical, agricultural and biotech industries!

If you believe the "Avian Flu Hype", go ahead, keep eating factory chicken and get your flu shot. In so doing, you will only continue to support the economy of the large pharmaceutical, agricultural and biotech industries.

I will join the increasing numbers of "fringe" groups that are enjoying the benefits of real food, such as pastured chickens and raw sauerkraut.

Copyright © 2006 Pam Killeen
All rights reserved


Pam Killeen is an Investigative Reporter and Health Watchdog, linking together issues such as health, nutrition and agriculture. Her website is

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