Thursday, March 02, 2006
The Grain In Spain - Don't Complain
Morocco is demanding that grain shipments from all countries hit by bird flu, including France, are accompanied by special food safety certificates, trade sources said on Wednesday.
French traders said they had received an official letter from the Moroccan farm ministry on Wednesday asking them to provide health certificates showing grain cargoes were not carrying the bird flu virus.
Now how on earth one could accurately certify this is beyond me or any other person. Birds fly into and spend a lot of time in grain-producing fields. And as birds fly they deposit bird droppings wherever they fly. It's pretty much a given that straw, hay and some grains will have some residual contamination in these areas. H5N1 seems to persist for quite a while in the natural environment, and the way grains are harvested will prevent sun from hitting much of the grain. Other than irradiating the grain, I can't imagine what could possibly constitute a reasonable guarantee that it is H5N1-free.
Other countries are supposed to follow Morocco's lead in this measure. What good it will do I cannot imagine, unless to provide grounds for legal suits later. And how could one legally prove that straw and not a bird introduced the virus locally? I have not yet seen an egret waiting at a national border to get its visa stamped and health certified.
Just to make the entire situation even more ridiculous, Europe has been urged to set up bird flu monitoring centers in Morocco and Tunisia, because these countries lie under a migratory pathway and are considered high-risk.
Canada has quarantined 8 poultry farms which recently imported live fowl and eggs from France.
International cooperation will go the way of the dodo bird when the first H2H hit.
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