A Chinese agriculture ministry official said this week that a paper about the deaths from avian flu of geese in the country, published in the July 6 online issue of Nature, was wrong and had been conducted without government approval.

The paper, by University of Hong Kong researcher Guan Yi and colleagues, including Robert G. Webster and Malik Peiris, concluded that an H5N1 outbreak among bar-headed geese and gulls at Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve was triggered by the introduction of a strain from southern China.

But last weekend, China's Ministry of Agriculture spokesman made strong statements carried by China's state-controlled Xinhua news service, dismissing the research.

"An article on bird flu carried in the renowned journal Nature made the wrong conclusion," stated the article, which went on to say that, "no bird flu has broken out in southern China since [the beginning of] this year.

"The writers' laboratory lacks...

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