The European Union has revealed it will step up action against wildlife trading within its 27 member states. It will also try to make factory farming “more sustainable,” reports Reuters.
The EU recognizes the role that wildlife trading and factory farming have played in the current coronavirus pandemic, the publication notes.
There are now more than 2.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world. More than 165,000 people have died and more than 630,000 have recovered.
Experts originally believe the novel coronavirus may have originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where the first outbreak was reported. However, there is evidence that the first patients had no connection to the market, NPR reports. But, experts agree that the virus likely originated from wildlife.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the virus is likely to have come from bats. It may also have come from pangolins, an endangered mammal that is trafficked for its meat and scales. According to scientists, 60 percent of the 335 infectious diseases that emerged between 1940 and 2004 came from animals.
Bats, along with other wild animals, can be bought legally inside EU countries; the trade is worth around $108 billion.
EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told Reuters: “healthy ecosystems lead to a healthy society and therefore it is not too high a price to pay to fix them.”
He added: “[there is] strong evidence that the way meat is produced, not only in China, contributed to COVID-19.”
Reuters notes that the European Commission intends to address the issue in upcoming proposals. They will seek to safeguard biodiversity and make farming more sustainable.
Does Meat Production Increase the Risk of a Pandemic?
Dr. Michael Greger—a plant-based physician, author, and professional speaker—warned about the threat of deadly pandemic more than a decade ago.
During a speech in Washington D.C., he said in 2008: “the two greatest threats facing humanity, according to the United Nations, are climate change and emerging infectious disease—particularly pandemic influenza.”
During the speech, he talked about the risk of humanity’s close contact with animals. He referenced the exotic pet trade, hunting, deforestation, and factory farms. On the latter, animals are crowded close together, often in unsanitary conditions.
He said: “these intensive systems represent the most profound alteration of the human-animal relationship in 10,000 years, and it’s no surprise they are breeding grounds for disease.”
Earlier this month, world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall said that “disrespect for animals” caused the pandemic. “We have to realize we are part of the natural world,” she stated. “We depend on it. As we destroy it, we are actually stealing the future from our children.”