January 15, 2004
Thai PM Insists No Bird Flu In Thailand
Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra insisted on the safety of Thai chickens saying that the recent spate of poultry deaths in the country was not related to the deadly bird flu virus.
"Thai chickens are safe. The cause of the deaths aren't the bird flu disease...and the situation is now under control," Thaksin told reporters.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Newin Chidchob said separately that the testing showed that the chickens died of cholera and bronchitis.
"These two diseases won't spread from chickens to humans and won't be harmful for consumers like the bird flu disease," Newin said.
Newin said the Department of Livestock Development has brought the situation under control by burning and burying the infected chickens and by not allowing the transfer of chickens in an attempt to prevent the diseases from spreading
The agriculture ministry also has banned imports of poultry and their body parts from infected countries including Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and countries in the European Union, Newin said.
Last year, prices of Thai chickens exported to two of its biggest markets Japan and Europe surged because of shortages caused by outbreaks of bird flu in leading poultry-producing countries.
Thailand benefited from shortages caused by the highly contagious disease in China, the Netherlands and Belgium, an executive at Thailand's largest chicken producer, Charoen Pokphand Foods, was quoted as saying in local media reports. All three countries are major poultry exporters.
Thailand is also one of the world's leading chicken exporters. It targets to export around 600,000 tons of chicken in 2004, up from expected exports of 500,000 tons of chicken valued at 52 billion baht ($1=THB38.899) in 2003.