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The Associated Press reports that a study released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, says that most world business leaders believe that the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus is the biggest “global risk” threatening the planet.

The study, entitled “Global Risks 2006,” says that the possibility of new terrorist attacks and oil price shocks are believed to be just as dangerous – though less likely to happened than a bird flu epidemic.

''If the avian flu H5N1 virus mutates to enable human-to-human transmission, it may disrupt our global society and economy in an unprecedented way,'' the study says, suggesting that tens of millions of people could be killed in such an eventuality.

The AP writes, “The H5N1 bird flu strain has ravaged poultry stocks in Asia since 2003 and recently spread to Europe through migratory birds. World health authorities fear the disease could mutate into a form that spreads easily from person-to-person, sparking a flu pandemic that could kill millions of people.

“So far, though, human cases of the disease have been mostly limited to people who have come into direct contact with infected birds. According to the World Health Organization, 83 people have died of the disease since 2003.”
KC's View:
The thing that the food industry has to keep in mind is that very few consumers actually understand the reality and implications of avian flu…and that it has both the opportunity and even the responsibility to explain it.