By Ndubuisi Francis
Leaders from global organisations, including the United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have advised governments to urgently change how food is produced, blaming deforestation and unregulated wildlife trade for the transmission of diseases like Covid-19 to humans.
Joining forces, the UN, WHO and WWF called on governments to change their ways regarding sustainable and environmental practices and adopt stricter wildlife trade regulations and better food safety.
The WWF’s Director General, Marco Lambertini; UN Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema; and Maria Neira, the Director of WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, issued a warning in an article.
The article essentially explained how unregulated wildlife trade and forest destruction is a major reason animal diseases are beginning to affect humans.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, scientists have looked into what may have caused the novel coronavirus’ mass destruction, and concluded that environmental destruction has largely contributed to the pandemic, adding that most emerging infectious diseases are driven by human activities.
The article looked back on a number of diseases from Zika to Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the Nipah virus, SARS, and Ebola, analysing how they had jumped from animals to humans during environmental catastrophes.
This led them to believe that human’s ‘broken relationship’ with nature — including mass deforestation, wildlife trading, and factory farming —
led to COVID-19, and could lead to more future pandemics.
“We must recognise that the way we currently produce and consume food, and our blatant disregard for the environment more broadly, has pushed the natural world to its limits,” according to the article in The Guardian of London, which was collaboratively written by leaders from each of the three organisations.
The organisations noted that “nature is currently declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history”.
Calling for stricter wildlife trade regulations and further enhancing food safety, they credited China for announcing a temporary ban on trading and consuming wild animals — which may soon become permanent — and Vietnam, which is looking to take a similar course of action. They also hope to further regulate deforestation which has ravaged natural lands across the globe.
“The way we currently produce and consume food, and our blatant disregard for the environment more broadly, has pushed the natural world to its limits.
“Nature is currently declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, and this is actually increasing our vulnerability to new diseases, particularly as a result of land-use change through activities such as deforestation and agricultural and livestock intensification,” the article said.
Environmental icon, Jane Goodall, had brought up similar points in the past, saying that another future pandemic is almost inevitable if humankind does not mend their relationship with planet earth.
She, too, attributed human’s inhumane treatment of animals, including livestock and wildlife, to be the main cause of the pandemic, as it reportedly first infected a human at an “exotic animal market” in Wuhan, China.
Goodall also believes decreasing meat consumption could lower the possibility of a pandemic, while decreasing contact with animals and wildlife could greatly lower the possibility of spreading diseases from animals to humans.
A number of major world health leaders are also creating a Green Recovery Plan ahead of future pandemics, which will petition G20 leaders to enact a “healthy recovery”.