Authorities and Outbreaks

Remember the concerns I expressed last month about the N.A.I.S. (National Animal Identification System)?

When news like the following breaks, it’s hard not to imagine some authority in our own country getting a similar sort of hare-brained idea the next time a disease breaks out:

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt began slaughtering the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the spread of swine flu even though no cases have been reported here yet, the Health Ministry said.

The move immediately provoked resistance from pig farmers. At one large pig farming center just north of Cairo, farmers refused to cooperate with Health Ministry workers who came to slaughter the animals and the workers left without carrying out the government order.

“It has been decided [TYF: gotta love that use of the passive, bureaucratic voice] to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country’s slaughterhouses,” Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly told reporters after a Cabinet meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork due to religious restrictions. But the animals are raised and consumed by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population.

Health Ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman estimated there were between 300,000-350,000 pigs in Egypt.

Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza told reporters that farmers would be allowed to sell the pork meat so there would be no need for compensation.

Bravo to the Egyptian farmers who have stood up to the authorities and refused to allow the slaughter of their healthy animals. And be thankful that there is no N.A.I.S. in your country that would allow those authorities to more efficiently locate and target the smaller farmers who might be less able to fight back.

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