Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Cow, Goat, Chicken and Pig! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Major disasters and calamities are always followed by serious and immediate inspection into the magnitude of the problem, its ramifications and its causes so that measures can be taken for it not to happen again.

If the major financial crisis from which the world is suffering severely has caused an in-depth review into the financial system and its legislation and regulation, which was replete with defects that led to where we are now and the harming of people’s interests in most parts of the world, then it is very clear that the conclusion that rational-minded people reached was that the old banking system could not continue or last and that is why it collapsed.

According to the same logic, and with the same outcome, people today are coming out to say that the different ways that birds and cattle are bred can no longer continue as there were faults in the contact between birds, animals and humans, causing a group of new, dangerous diseases to have developed to the extent that they have become difficult to diagnose and in some cases to treat. Perhaps the destructive encounters with Mad Cow disease, Foot and Mouth, bird flu and most recently Swine Flu confirms this. The new epidemic is a poisonous tax against the modern cattle and poultry industry that relies on mass production at any cost.

Swine Flu itself is not new; it appeared in 1918 and struck the American state of North Carolina in 1998 however in both cases, the virus was restricted to pigs and was not transferred to humans. Nevertheless, with extremely close contact between human beings and animals intended for human consumption, and the quick improvement in transporting cattle and poultry around the world, the transmission of the virus from animal to human was only a matter of time, and that is what happened. In fact it might get worse just as some medical figures in some international health organizations have predicted.

With regards to the Arabs, the issue is still obscure even today. There are large cities and many areas in the mountainous regions where birds and cattle live side-by-side with humans in a random and dangerous manner that goes against all safety regulations and logic. This behavior increases the chances of new diseases emerging in the not-so-distant future. Of course there are similar cases in Asia, Africa and South America.

The Egyptian government made a bold decision to slaughter all pigs immediately and of course like everything in the Arab world this issue was politicized and turned into a religious and sectarian issue and required intervention from Pope Shenouda and various statesmen even though the issue is a purely medical and health one. But this is the situation in the Arab world and these kinds of decisions might have to be taken in the cases of poultry, camels, cows or goats in other situations that could arise in the future according to some reports that have been issued.

There is now international development in revising grazing methods and contact between animals and humans. This revision will be followed by regulations, laws and penalties that require serious preparation and tough decisions to be taken.