global perspective: flying in the face of avian flu

After a space of some four months, the H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza has surfaced again - this time, apparently, in a Great Crested Grebe in Spain. The incidence of animal diseases always seems to prompt political debate, as well as alarmist views, in the press.

In the media, the word pandemic always comes to the fore at such times. The reference is simply designed to awaken apprehension in the general public - and perhaps to sell more newspapers.

Following the above announcement, the European Parliament's Green Party was said to be questioning the wisdom of importing meat from faraway places. (Logically, however, there is no direct

link between these two

points; it is simply a case of political posturing).

Interestingly, there is never any cry to stop us leaping onto an aircraft to visit far-flung places.

Should we be banned from travelling for fear we might bring back disease or, indeed, subject ourselves to different levels of hygiene to those applied in Europe?

At the moment, there is great uncertainty surrounding the progress of the WTO talks. However, when further reductions in tariffs are agreed, these should not be replaced by other barriers seeking to undermine confidence in imported products.

Adverse publicity is never any good for the meat trade, either domestically or internationally!