Global Panic, Local Repercussions: Economic and Nutritional Effects of Bird Flu in Vietnam
Efforts to eliminate avian influenza are imbued with viral panic and are anchored to the 1918 influenza pandemic, SARS, and bioterrorism. The small number of human HPAI deaths has been given enormous significance but less attention is paid to impacts of containment policies on food security, nutrition, or subsistence among small-scale farmers. In Vietnam, the livelihoods of the rural poor are supplemented by household poultry. Government policies to eliminate backyard operations remove a hedge against economic security, undermine the symbolic and cultural importance of poultry, and rupture relationships between buyers and sellers. Rural farmers face the triple burden of stigma for creating conditions that promote bird flu, destruction of their flocks, and the risk of living at an epicenter.
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