I have been refraining from writing about the big news that’s been hitting the Korean headlines for more than a month because readers here probably know by now that I have strong feelings when it comes to animal welfare in general, and might suffer some sort of fatigue if this piece of news were to come from me. On top of which, nothing depresses me more and makes me regard Korea with complete loss of hope in humanity as the way it treats animals.
A few days ago, South Korean press reported that they found the first bird-mammal cross infection case of Avian Influenza in which a dog was found to possess the antibody of AI (type H5N8). The dog is meant to have got it through eating an infected bird.
This has been building up for the last 2 months..
Following a case of migratory birds death in Kochang in the Jolla province in January which was found to be from AI(H518), South Korea has culled more than 10 million poultry birds (mainly chickens, and some ducks) for the last 2 months.
There has been much discussion on TV as to whether the intense battery farming method has not contributed to the exacerbation of the problem , if not, provided the very reason for it, which the government has tried to attribute solely to migratory birds (가창오리, in this case) and here(at 9:30 mark) it is even suggested that it might have originated from Korean 감금류 caged poultry to the migratory birds.
Much more plausible reason could be the backward way in which poultry birds are farmed in Korea.
From the article above:
세계 각국을 들여다봐도 대한민국은 유일하게 조류인플루엔자 발생 빈도가 높다. 이 중 도농복합도시인 충남은 이 중에서도 ‘위험 지역’으로 분류된다. 세계동물보건기구(OIE)가 집계한 자료에 따르면 2003~2013년 우리나라에서 모두 112개 농가에서 조류인플루엔자(AI)가 발생했다. 이는 세계 11위에 랭크된 수치다.
문제는 AI 발생 상위권이 모두 베트남, 태국, 인도네시아, 미얀마 등 후진국이나 개발도상국이라는 점이다. 선진국에서의 AI는 ‘딴 세상 이야기’다. 당장 주변국인 중국과 일본을 비교하더라도 우리나라는 4~80건가량 더 발생하고 있다.
왜 우리나라가 선진국보다 AI·구제역에 취약한 것일까? 전문가들은 철새의 원인도 전혀 부정할 수 없지만, 공장식 찍어 누르는 사육 시스템을 지적하고 있다.
A4 용지만 한 철창에서 먹이만 먹는 사육장 환경이 첫 번째 원인이라는 얘기다.
날개 한번 제대로 펴지 못하는 닭·오리는 당연히 질병에 취약할 수밖에 없다는 게 전문가들의 분석이다.
실제 공주시 인성실업 농장에서의 AI는 남의 일이다. 2012년 동물복지 축산농장으로 지정된 이후 단 한 차례도 이렇다 할 전염병에 걸린 기억이 없다.
농장 한 관계자는 “친환경적으로 닭을 사육하면 면역력이 강해질뿐더러 가금류의 육질도 좋아진다”며 “우리나라 동물복지에 대한 인식은 매우 낮은 수준”이라고 말했다.
South Korea comes in at the top 11th position in the frequency of recorded AI cases in the world. They are the only “developed” nation to come in at such high position, AI is very rare in developed nations, even comparing to China or Japan, Korea is recording 4~80 more cases.
The horrendous environment in which Korean farmers can raise their battery poultry is to blame, as these birds stuck in a cage, with a space of less than A4 paper per bird their whole lives) have detrimental effect on their immune system and health.
It goes on to present a case, in one farm in Kongju city, that after becoming certified as a animal welfare farm, they have not had a single case of infectious diseases.
Here is another good summary of the case in Korean.
The next “thing” is just around the corner. With all their crazy fads and catchphrases of “well-beings” and “organic” and “natural” this and that, it *should be* only a matter of time before the mothers with their princess daughters and money start spending it on ethical food, but this seems to take more time. Maybe because the term “mothers of princess daughters” itself implies teacup-pooch-in-a-handbag, brain-dead fur-wearing fad-without-substance thinkers themselves.
I am also aware that the evil practice from factory farming is rampant elsewhere, including the US too. However, I am worried that the traditionally (plant)agricultural society like Korea (less animal farming and less hunting, plant-based diet than dairy,meat-dominant diet of the West) without a natural evolution of an animal farming practice will cotton on and be stuck in the worst time-limbo by adapting the worst kind of modernization possible (like the 60’s 70’s apartment block based architecture that predominates the modern Korean architecture)