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OF&G issues avian flu guidance

Date Published: 21/10/2005

Organic Farmers & Growers has today published guidance for organic farmers on preparing for avian flu, as more cases were identified across eastern and southern Europe.

Tests on birds found dead in Romania last week had proved negative, but now a number of positives have been confirmed in that country, including in a heron.

Cases of the virus have now also been confirmed in Turkey and Greece as well as a suspected incidence in Macedonia.

Scientists are stressing that this strain does not appear capable of passing between humans, but could pose a threat to those in close contact with infected birds.

The big fear among governments and health officials is a combination of H5N1 and a more usual human strain, giving the new version the ability to spread easily among people – who would have no natural resistance to it.

European Health Ministers have held a series of meetings to discuss the ways in which they plan to respond to the disease.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Defra is making information on the disease available to the poultry industry, as well as guidelines on their responsibilities.

Organic Farmers & Growers has published its own guidelines as they relate to organic egg and poultry production.

OF&G Business Manager, Richard Jacobs, said: “We can’t hide from the fact that this could have a serious impact on the industry. At this time we are putting together all the guidance and information we can for our licensees.

“We are also staying in close contact with Defra and other relevant agencies to ensure they hear what we need to tell them and so that we can pass back information to the producers on the ground.”