Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Marion Dixon

Location: U.S.
Academic field: Sociology
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title: Eek! What the chick: Addressing the issues of industrial poultry in Egypt
  • What We Learned From It:
    • With the rise of a corporate agri-food system in Egypt since the 1980s, the country's industrial poultry production has increased dramatically.
    • The Guidance Memo focuses on a key concern with Egypt's corporate poultry industry: Endemic avian flu virus. It recurs in the country every flu season, killing millions upon millions of birds and some humans too. One of the authorities' key containment measures had been mass cullings of "household"/"cottage" chickens which were assumed to have spread the virus. But the assumption is false. The virus had actually moved from industrial facilities to households. Industrial firms not only were saved, they further consolidated as smaller farms were decimated by the mass cullings.
    • The Guidance Memo also addresses another serious issue: Government food subsidies. The poultry industry and red meat producers/importers have benefited from the food (non-bread) subsidy system. And a growing percentage of imported grains and other foods are used to feed animals and for food processing (i.e. industrial uses) rather than for direct human consumption only.
    • To deal with these issues: 1. Take action to weaken the corporate poultry industry and its ability to pass on infected birds (and the virus) to other poultry operators through its value chain. Advocate for government restrictions on sale of birds from large-scale breeding facilities. 2. Do not end food subsidies (in spite of calls to do so). But instead replace the subsidy on poultry with a producer and consumer subsidy on fava beans - an indigenous, protein-rich plant food. This would diversify protein sources in Egyptian diets.


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • For those trying to tackle problems with industrial food and livestock production, Egypt is an important country to understand. It is doubly important because NGOs rarely pay attention to Egypt. 
  • The applicant has done deep research into these topics.
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