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New York Daily News | Why Are Wet Markets Open Again in China?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, April 22, 2020 — As Americans look down the barrel of a recession of the likes we haven’t seen since the 1930s, they are facing uncertainty, grim economic forecasts and a way of life that up until just a couple of months ago was unimaginable. Waiting lines at food banks, social distancing at all times, temperature checks to enter buildings: This is the reality we are facing and will face for months if not years to come. Some 22 million people across the country have filed for unemployment and millions more are hoping and praying they are not the next to receive pink slips.

While we as a nation are figuring out how to safely move forward, other countries remain stuck in the very cultural mores and societal norms that brought about the current deadly global coronavirus pandemic.

The root cause of COVID-19 is tied directly to our global lack of action when it comes to our collective approach to animal welfare, safety and ethics. For proof of this, we need look no further than Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus seems to have originated in a wet market — the very same wet market that recently reopened.

These markets are rife with filth and disease; urine and blood of differing species routinely co-mingle and people routinely sell and eat exotic wildlife. Wildlife that was never intended for consumption, much less the horrors that ultimately brought it to the butchering block.

We must as a global community demand that these practices be stopped. To do anything short of that is frankly unfathomable and only invites further global death and economic hardship.

When humans fail to take action to protect animals from unethical treatments, fail to have biosecurity procedures, fail to have independent oversight from animal welfare and fail to change societal norms for the better of all animal kind, this is exactly the disaster we invite.

Pandemics of this nature have occurred time and time again for centuries; the question is when will it stop. What trigger point will make people wake-up to the realities we face?

Animals are not to blame, whether they be wild bats or domesticated cats. The same sadly cannot be said for the actions of people and governments who have broken the social contract with animals we share the world with but who have no voice.

It is time to require independent audits of animal operations and standards set by the world’s leading scientists and welfare experts to govern long overdue and needed biosecurity procedures to ensure human and animal safety.

We can only hope that as Americans shelter in place and businesses shutter across the country, that global leaders take corrective action now before the next deadly pandemic is brought to us via China’s noxious wet markets.

Edling earned his masters of public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a special emphasis on infectious and zoonotic diseases and has worked with the Centers for Disease Control for 17 years on outbreaks associated with zoonotic diseases. Ganzert is the president and CEO of American Humane.

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