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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
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
or Barry MacKay at 905-472-9731 or Stephanie Brown at