Everything Tastes Like Chicken


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by Curtis

Not too many people ever think about the multitude of diseases which may be lurking in that piece of chicken you just sat down to. However; it may be wise to think about it because a new study has found that around 40 billion commercial chickens may be carrying or susceptible to horrible diseases.

This is due to the fact that these chickens breed over and over again with each other, and because of this half of the genetic diversity that is possible in the chicken genome is lost.  One of these diseases is the ‘bird flu’ or Avian Influenza which William Karesh, head of the Field Veterinary Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, stated that “There are more [bird] flu infections in more countries than ever before.” In other words, the problem of the bird flu is not going away.

A study was conducted with 2,500 chickens where the variety of genes was compared between different types of chickens. In some of the most extreme cases, the commercial chickens (those raised for meat and eggs) were found to have only about 10% of the genes which were carried by other free range chickens. This means that 90% of the genes had been lost due to confined breeding habits. The average loss of genes was around 50%. Hans Cheng of the US Department of Agriculture and also an Avian disease specialist who conducted this study said that the “commercial stock may lack the genetic diversity necessary to combat new and emerging diseases.”

Bill Muir, Purdue University animal sciences professor, who was also part of the study said that it is important to protect the non-commercial species of chickens in order to interbreed the two to keep disease resistance up along with genetic diversity.  Muir stated that “traits such as disease resistance may be found among the rare alleles of other (non-commercial) birds.”

Many scientists are encouraging an immediate interbreeding of chickens in order to prevent the “pathogenic avian flu viruses.” Poultry consumption in the US, per person, has never been higher. It would be a disaster if poultry production had to immediately cease due to health concerns. Cheng states that “this would greatly impact both the poultry industry and human health.”

Do you believe that these are valid concerns? Why are these reports just now coming out? Are there other sources of data that back up the information provided in this study? Does this cause you to worry about the chicken you are eating? Are there other types of agriculture (cows, sheep, etc.) that are at risk for these types of diseases?

5 Responses to “Everything Tastes Like Chicken”

  1. Erik Says:

    It’s definitely some scary stuff, but unfortunately factory farming practices are nothing new. Many animal product companies (eggs, milk, meat) use an excess of antibiotics along with the animal’s normal feed. This is done because disease spreads so quickly among the tightly packed animals. Of course, the more antibiotics are used, the better the bacteria adapt to fight back. The resulting issue is that we may be assisting the formation of new, antibiotic-resistant “germs”. Imagine if these “super germs” evolved to affect the human race! It could mean the next pandemic. I seem to remember something that happened in Europe a while back, lots of people, lots of death….hmmm…. “black” something? Also, to learn more about “factory farming in a cool “matrixy” video go to this cite : http://www.themeatrix1.com/
    To learn all about antibiotic-resistant “germs”: http://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/documents/Antibiotics_ILOs.pdf
    For more info on factory faming (good and bad): http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-factory-farming.htm

  2. Jess Says:

    Curtis, this was a very fascinating post. I have always strongly believed, and it is fact, that nutrition is very important in everyone’s life. Over the past years, people’s eating habits have change drastically. Nowadays, most people look for three things: if it is quick, easy, and cheap. Well balanced diets and nutrition have been replaced by drive-thru McDonalds serving $1.00 “meals” of chicken nuggets. Your post, Curtis, revealed the life threatening diseases in each one of these chicken nuggets, and of chicken products similar. Should we be scared to eat fast food?

    I think a possibility is not to totally abolish fast food chains altogether, but improve them. Healthy fast food is the answer. Perhaps not even healthy fast food, but healthier fast food. People have the choice to pick “healthier” foods at a fast food restaurant. This link gives suggestions.


  3. Teddy Says:

    Wow curtis this really is very eye opening. I never realize how dangerous it could b to just go to mcdonalds or kfc to have some chicken. I don’t eat that much chicken, but when i do eat it, its always organic (my mom gets it from whole foods and trader joes). At this website it says the benifits of organic chicken, it’s pretty interesting, and i highly recomend eating it. http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Organic_Chicken_Farming

  4. sam F. Says:

    Great post Curtis! This is important because it makes people more aware of what can happen if you eat bad quality chicken. I learned from http://virus.emedtv.com/bird-flu/bird-flu-symptoms.html that the bird flu is extremly contagious among birds so thats why many of them have it. Also chickens aren’t the only type of bird that can get this. Turkeys and ducks can also get this flu. Some less severe symptoms from the bird flu are a cough, fever sore throat and muscle aches. More severe symptoms are pneumonia, acute respitory distress, and viral pneumonia. Again good post.

  5. Sarah Says:

    Curtis! This is a really great post, although it really made me think twice about eating chicken. I really agree with Jess on this, about the fast food market. A lot of people turn to fast food places for their meals, and that is really unhealthy. The fast food places should really look into where they are gettting their chicken from, because this could be a threat to people. this website shows you exactly what is in fast food: http://www.fatcalories.com/

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