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Goose wars heat up again
Once again shoddy science persecutes Canada geese without addressing the real culprit--factory farming.

What should we really fear?

Widespread agricultural practices which produce antimicrobial resistance bacteria and viruses deleterious to human health and safety.

Toronto, May 3, 2005: The effect of the report, Free-living Canada Geese and Antimicrobial Resistance article that was released on the Centres for Disease Control web site will likely result in widespread persecution of Canada geese as vectors of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

Shoddy science: 'All the geese studied were non-migratory so the transport of diseases by migratory geese is simply supposition and conjecture' said Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance of Canada. 'As well, no concerns were raised about the environmental prevalence of resistant agricultural bacteria and viruses. This comes as no surprise as the study was funded in part by the United States Department of Agriculture.'

The Real Culprit -- Factory Farming: What the report actually concluded, says White, was that, 'Little or no resistance was observed among the E. coli isolates recovered from Canada Geese in regions with no known direct contact with liquid wastes. However, geese in direct contact with lagoons containing liquid swine waste carried intergrons and their associated resistance genes.'

'The report sites farm ponds, waste lagoons and grazing pastures - places where farm animals and wildlife interact and where the report suggests are reservoirs of zoonotic diseases' said Barry MacKay, Canadian representative for the Animal Protection Institute and noted authority on birds. 'The real story here is not the geese but that the researchers of this paper believe that antimicrobial resistant bugs are now prevalent in much of the agricultural environment.'

Grateful to the geese: "Factory farming practices, including wide-spread use of growth promotants (low-dose antibiotics) in farmed animals contribute to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, " said Stephanie Brown, representative of the Canadian Farm Animal Coalition. 'It is the Achilles heel of factory farming and everyone knows it. The problem with the study is that it blames the geese without addressing the root cause -- bad agricultural practices. The geese have simply demonstrated the prevalence of these bugs in intensive agricultural settings, so we should not shoot the messenger -- we should stop factory farming in such areas as large pig breeding operations producing the very waste lagoons identified as a problem in the study.'

"Even the World Health Organization is concerned about antimicrobial resistance." said Mr. MacKay, referring to the WHO's Global Strategy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance. "WHO recommends the reduction in the use of antimicrobials in food-animal production because antimicrobial use is the key driver of resistant bacteria. It seems that the geese have done us a big favour by showing how widespread these antimicrobial resistant bacteri are in the environment."

Definition: Antimicrobials are a class of substances that destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria. and includes synthetic and natural chemical substances.

For further information please contact Liz White at 416-462-9541(p) or 416-809-4371(cell),
or Barry MacKay at 905-472-9731 or Stephanie Brown at 416-920-4984.

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