Ban wildlife markets to avert pandemics, says UN biodiversity chief
Warning comes as destruction of nature increasingly seen as key driver of zoonotic diseases
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said countries should move to prevent future pandemics by banning “wet markets” that sell live and dead animals for human consumption, but cautioned against unintended consequences.
China has issued a temporary ban on wildlife markets where animals such as civets, live wolf pups and pangolins are kept alive in small cages while on sale, often in filthy conditions where they incubate diseases that can then spill into human populations. Many scientists have urged Beijing to make the ban permanent.
Using the examples of Ebola in west-central Africa and the Nipah virus in east Asia, Mrema said there were clear links between the destruction of nature and new human illnesses, but cautioned against a reactionary approach to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The message we are getting is if we don’t take care of nature, it will take care of us,” she told the Guardian.“It would be good to ban the live animal markets as China has done and some countries. But we should also remember you have communities, particularly from low-income rural areas, particularly in Africa, which are dependent on wild animals to sustain the livelihoods of millions of people.
“So unless we get alternatives for these communities, there might be a danger of opening up illegal trade in wild animals which currently is already leading us to the brink of extinction for some species.“We need to look at how we balance that and really close the hole of illegal trade in the future.”
As the coronavirus has spread around the world, there has been increased focus on how humanity’s destruction of nature creates conditions for new zoonotic illness to spread.Jinfeng Zhou, secretary general of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, called on authorities to make the ban on wildlife markets permanent, warning diseases such as Covid-19 would appear again.
“I agree there should be a global ban on wet markets, which will help a lot on wildlife conservation and protection of ourselves from improper contacts with wildlife,” Zhou said. “More than 70% of human diseases are from wildlife and many species are endangered by eating them.”
Mrema said she was optimistic that the world would take the consequences of the destruction of the natural world more seriously in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak when countries returned to negotiate the post-2020 framework for biodiversity, billed as the Paris agreement for nature.
“Preserving intact ecosystems and biodiversity will help us reduce the prevalence of some of these diseases. So the way we farm, the way we use the soils, the way we protect coastal ecosystems and the way we treat our forests will either wreck the future or help us live longer,” she said.
“We know in the late 1990s in Malaysia with the outbreak of Nipah virus, it is believed that the virus was a result of forest fires, deforestation and drought which had caused fruit bats, the natural carriers of the virus, to move from the forests into the peat farms. It infected the farmers, which infected other humans and that led to the spread of disease.
“Biodiversity loss is becoming a big driver in the emergence of some of these viruses. Large-scale deforestation, habitat degradation and fragmentation, agriculture intensification, our food system, trade in species and plants, anthropogenic climate change – all these are drivers of biodiversity loss and also drivers of new diseases. Two thirds of emerging infections and diseases now come from wildlife.”
In February, delegates from more than 140 countries met in Rome to respond for the first time to a draft 20-point agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, including proposals to protect almost a third of the world’s oceans and land and reduce pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50%.
A major summit to sign the agreement in October was scheduled in the Chinese city of Kunming but has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Read more: The Guardian »
They eat any thing that's what's wrong 😡 China could stop this if it wanted to, its a police state however they choose to allow wet markets to function openly and now the entire world is paying for their idiocy. Leave the poor creatures alone pangolins are lovely animals. This is shocking. Hell yes right now!
SamHarrisOrg Savages 😿 as a fact, the world must not forget the phenomenon of China origin.CCP jaysus! Brutal. Why isn't this in Mandarin? Sense at last It is not just wild animal markets. Eating of meat, chicken and fish is abominable! Wake-up banwetmarketsnow They are the breeding grounds for the virulent diseases, and should be banned worldwide.
And it's not just the fact they're trading wildlife, it's the fact some insidious psychopaths at these places torture animals to death first so the flesh tastes better. Depraved monsters. Tighten enforcement against poachers ChristineMilne I thought the latest scientific information reported on the ABC News this morning was that this virus definitely did not come from pengalins nor any other non-human mammals. Genetically proven, and especially could not infect tigers!😂
this is awful... Im glad Im vegan Maybe a forceful international effort...? Badgergate Ban all animal trade. Cruel and immoral, and here’s the payback. Absolutely. These should be banned. And we must begin with China, which has been &continues to be a menace to our wildlife, the world over. Some of which has almost become extinct.
We must stop trade in animals Chinese eat shit 💩😠 kuku27 I'd like to differ, wildlife is clean, w/o any infection, is checked by health authority while vegetables are sprayed with chemicals and also carry bacteria and virus, as reported by research in past few days, becomes suspect now. Both must be checked for alien bodies
Close factory farming it’s morally wrong and health wise fucking disgusting, viruses spread quickly through them places. Yes. Also stop destroying habitats and stop human encroachment, which both increase contact between wildlife and humans. Demolish/destroy such wet markets in china and sentence them in jail for at least 25 years who operate such markets.
Gross did you really have to include this vile image or just go vegan..future pandemic problem solved depends on what counts as a wild life market and who gets to decide on enforcement. The UN is useless, China wont allow anyone in to police or inspect them. This would only be used to pander to the Climate Change crowd abusing it to force people to eat vegetarian.
Louisiana eats gators ... I had a dog that liked gator treats once ... It's offered as dog treats as well. How can you ban something that is already illegal? It's like trying to ban illegal drugs. Bullshit. Ban them because they are cruel and INHUMANE. Stop blaming animals for manmade virus. Win win - will also positively impact the nature and wildlife continuum
Perhaps this should have been demanded before permitting China a HumanRights seat. The UN has lost credibility. Seats are sold to highest bidder apparently. Seems entirely corrupt with a hidden political agenda. I totally agree!!! 🙏🏼 Unsanitary😷Ban it Now WorlDWide🙏 What are these guys eating exactly?
Rashidbashir26 Wildlife being abused all over the world. Ban pet stores and factory farming. Same shit different pile WTH Revenge. And I don't blame them.
UK councils begin to ban funeral ceremonies due to coronavirusUK%20councils%20begin%20to%20ban%20funeral%20ceremonies%20due%20to%20coronavirus%20%7C%20Coronavirus%20outbreak%20%7C%20The%20Guardian 1st spread the Chinesevirus & kiled so many people than provide them mask & kit for business purpose 😼. Chinesevirus business blooming
Hancock threatens to ban ALL exercise & blasts sunbathers for breaking rulesMATT Hancock has threatened to ban ALL exercise outside if Brits won’t stick to lockdown rules – as he blasted sunbathers for refusing to obey them. After photographs of people ignoring… People in GB will have all covid 19 What did we do to deserve living in a dictatorship run by this puffed up child-politician? endthelockdown
Coronavirus: Follow lockdown rules or we will ban outdoor exercise, health secretary warnsHealth Secretary Matt Hancock has criticised sunbathers for breaking lockdown rules and warned the government will ban exercise if people continue to ignore the advice to stay home Deflecting away from his shocking handling of the situation Just ban it and stop messing around MattHancock. Teach these idiots that you're not messing around. They've been given enough rope... Exercise should of been banned anyways, people can exercise in the house/garden and get sunlight by standing outside the house, would save more lives
China must pay Britain £351bn in coronavirus damages - report calls for UN to step inBORIS JOHNSON should pursue China for a coronavirus compensation package worth £351billion, according to a leading report into the global health crisis. 你他妈在做梦吧，想死吗 UN They'd probably make Great Britain pay China !!! They should but they wont. It would be more effective to have a trade embargo. Scrap their Huawaeii deal and stop them building HS2 would be 2 ways to hurt them financially to begin with.
Africa faces ‘complete collapse of economies and livelihoods’ if coronavirus not controlled, warns UNEthiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed also warns of 'existential threat' to way of life In the meantime deal with Europe! Stop focusing negativity on Africa! You lot are being wiped out! Nonesense, wazungu mna udo sana. We are fine and we are not dying in thousands,,,,mara u want covid-19 tests in Africa, mara africa faces collapese...pls the whole world faces complete economic collapse. KOT. That is an understatement.
China is appointed position on UN Human Rights CouncilJiang Duan, minister at the Chinese Mission in Geneva, has been appointed to the UN Human Rights Council's Consultative Group. So what, Obama won the Nobel peace prize when American troops are invading every country in the world. LOL