XIII WPC Report: Animal Welfare and Environment Launch Congress

AUSTRALIA - Animal welfare and the environment launched the first plenary session of the XIII World Poultry Congress in Brisbane Australia, writes Jackie Linden, Editor ThePoultrySite.
calendar icon 2 July 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Congress Chairman Dr Peter Hunton introduced the session commenting that it was fitting to start the session with animal welfare - a topic that received little attention when his country - Canada - hosted the WPC in 2000.

Professor John Webster of Bristol University subtitled his presentation 'Whatever happened to animal husbandry?'

In the last year, he said that consumers had become a little less wealthy and a good deal more frightened than in the previous decade, leading them to consider the affordability of food and the environmental impacts of its production.

He supported the concept of what he termed 'complimentarity' in animal feeding - in other words, feeding livestock on materials that do not compete with human nutrition and other uses.

Professor Webster distinguished between stress and suffering in animals. He was not very concerned about the former but suffering occurs when animals are unable to adapt their behaviour to cope with stressful situations, particularly over prolonged periods.

Welfare needs to be improved, he said, but legislation takes too long. Instead, this should be achieved by the re-direction of subsidies and voluntary welfare-based quality assurance standards.

Avian Influenza

A topical presentation on avian flu followed, presented by Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty of the University of Melbourne.

This gave an overview of the history of flu epidemics in the human population since 1918.

The speaker reminded the audience that the AI virus infects many avian species but that humans are incidental hosts.

Whilst the number of people affected by H5N1 - the currently circulating viral sub-type - is relatively low, there serious concern remains the continuous mutation of the virus.

Should an 'avian' virus undergo re-assortment with a 'human' virus within a host, the prospect of another global flu pandemic could become reality, he said.

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