Richard North, 09/08/2004  

The news of the moment… in South Africa (there doesn't seem to be any worth reporting in Europe, which seems to have shut down for the duration) is that the government has ordered a mass ostrich cull. Some 30,000 are due for the chop in the Eastern Cape, following the discovery of a mild strain of bird 'flu.

Readers will be pleased to know that the effect of the South African ostrich industry will be "quite minimal" as the cull represents only a small percentage of the country’s exports of 300,000 ostriches a year.

Agriculture ministry official Segoati Mahlangu said, "This is to safeguard our international credibility", adding that the EU had been notified and they had fully supported the measures.

The burning question for today therefore is whether – if we slaughter our ostriches – we could improve our credibility with the EU. If so, perhaps we should start with Stephen Byers.

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