WASHINGTON – Two members of Congress re-introduced a bipartisan bill that would shut down commercial wildlife markets, end the trade in live wildlife for human consumption and stop wildlife trade in the United States.
US Representatives Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) previously introduced the Preventing Future Pandemics Act in an effort to end the trade in live wildlife for human consumption in September. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a companion bill in the US Senate.
Federal lawmakers introduced the proposed legislation on the grounds that zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS and the coronavirus initially emerged from wildlife and then jumped to people through activities such as butchering or eating wildlife. Ending the trade of wildlife for human consumption would be one strategy to prevent the emergence of another deadly disease.
“The simple fact is that through continued consumption of wildlife and the persistence of the unsanitary conditions at wildlife markets, the emergence of the next zoonotic pandemic is a matter of when, not if. Close contact between humans and wild animals, and especially human consumption, is a threat to global health. As climate change and encroaching development drive people and wildlife closer together, it is imperative that we stop thinking of conservation and public health as separate issues,” Quigley said in September. “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act takes aim at wildlife markets and the trade that supplies them, positioning America as the global leader in replacing wild protein sources with safe alternatives and fighting to ensure that nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic happens again.”
Animal welfare groups that support efforts to close commercial wildlife markets and end trade in wildlife for human consumption applauded the action.
“We applaud Representatives Mike Quigley and Fred Upton for their tremendous work to shutter the ghastly wet markets that continue to serve as incubators for plagues like COVID-19,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The pandemic we face today has clearly proven that live animal markets filled with bats, pangolins, and other exotic creatures must be eradicated not only for the well-being of animals but for the safety and security of the human race and global economy.”
The Preventing Future Pandemics Act would make ending the import, export and sale of live wildlife for human consumption in the United States part of the US foreign policy by directing the US State Department to collaborate with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and end trade in food products derived from wildlife.
“From SARS to Ebola to COVID-19, the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to people is a persistent threat to global public health, and we know that commercial wildlife markets and the international wildlife trade significantly increase that risk,” Booker said when the legislation first was introduced. “As we continue to fight to get the spread of COVID-19 under control here in the United States, we must also be working with our international partners to prevent another deadly pandemic from occurring; that means working urgently to shut down commercial wildlife markets and end the international trade in live wildlife.”