Sunday, October 02, 2005

Death Watch

From OpinionJournal's Political Diary (subscription):
Longer term, the [flu virus] problem can be described in two syllables -- China. Weirdly stuck in a halfway world between peasant agriculture and agribusiness, it still has millions of peasant farmers living in close proximity to billions of ducks, chickens and pigs, forming a genetic hothouse that speeds up virus evolution. The number of pigs alone in China has grown from five million to 500 million in 35 years. Missing, though, are the rural land reforms that would aid the emergence of efficient agribusinesses whose systematic, controlled practices could more easily be harnessed to reduce the risk of deadly flu mutations and recombinations.
With our government controlling access to the vaccine, we'd best hope that nothing nasty breaks out over there. That bit PBS had on the Spanish Flu epidemic made it clear that what you need for a nasty strain of the flu is people living with livestock, as they do in much of China. Idiotic governance may yet be the death of us all....

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