Breaking! 100 Groups Urge U.S. Congress To Address COVID-19 Causes: Wildlife Trade & Habitat Destruction

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Yesterday, more than 100 organizations urged the United States Congress to address the trade of wildlife and habitat destruction, the root causes of emerging zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 that have erupted throughout the world over the past several decades.

In a letter, the groups noted that 60% of known infectious diseases in people can be transmitted from animals, and 75% of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases originate in wildlife. These emergent diseases have quadrupled in the past 50 years.

“We need to help people first, but this is both a public health crisis and a conservation emergency,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As we spend trillions to bail out the economy, we must also address habitat loss and the wildlife trade so future pandemics become less likely.”

The groups requested that 1% of total funds in future stimulus packages go to jobs addressing habitat loss, legal and illegal wildlife trade, and the protection of biological diversity in the United States and globally. Adding law enforcement and inspectors at U.S. ports of entry and building global capacity to address the extinction crisis can help reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Biodiversity loss, high rates of deforestation, and the ballooning human population are leading to an increase in human encroachment into previously undisturbed habitat which is negatively impacting wildlife. Combined with the legal and illegal wildlife trade, this increases the risk that viruses like COVID-19 will be more easily transmitted to humans.

As previously reported by WAN, COVID-19 was first recognized to have infected humans in a live-animal market in the City of Wuhan, China.

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