The Preventing Future Pandemics Act would end the import, export, and sales of certain live wildlife for the primary purpose of human consumption in the U.S. and implement dedicated strategies to address the problem worldwide.
WASHINGTON (September 29, 2020)—The Humane Society Legislative Fund commends U.S. Senators John Cornyn, R-Tex., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., and U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., for introducing the Preventing Future Pandemics Act. This legislation would protect Americans and people around the world from the continued emergence of devastating zoonotic diseases from risky wildlife management practices by eliminating cruel and unsafe live wildlife markets here at home and positioning the U.S. as a global leader to end the trade of live wildlife for human consumption.
The overarching lesson of COVID-19 is that we can no longer allow inhumane and high-risk interactions between humans and wild animals. COVID-19 has wreaked extreme havoc—killing over a million people to-date, sickening millions more, and triggering an economic crisis—all of which will be felt for years to come. The wildlife trade and live wildlife markets like the ones linked to COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and other disease outbreaks create a human health hazard and an animal welfare nightmare.
“In the United States and abroad, wildlife markets are filthy, crowded places filled with sick, injured and frightened animals. They are a perfect breeding ground for the transmission of disease from animals to humans, and we must promptly and effectively confront them as potential sparks for the next pandemic threat,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Sens. Cornyn and Booker, and Reps. Quigley and Upton, have risen to the occasion with a bill that puts the United States on the right path as a global leader in halting the spread of zoonotic disease through such markets.”
Stopping the trade of wildlife is one of the most effective, practical, and cost-efficient ways to significantly reduce the risk of future zoonotic pandemics caused by viral spillover from wildlife to humans. The Humane Society Legislative Fund encourages members of the public to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to cosponsor the Preventing Future Pandemics Act. Without a permanent ban on live wildlife trade for human consumption and strict enforcement put in place, the development and spread of deadly zoonotic diseases is likely to occur again.
Commentary from the bill’s sponsors can be seen below:
“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,” said Sen. Booker. “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.”
“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,” said Rep. Quigley. “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.”
“Abusive and unsanitary practices with animals can directly contribute to dangerous diseases—like COVID-19,” said Rep. Upton. “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act is commonsense legislation that would take a major step toward ensuring we never have another public health crisis like the once we’re facing today. If we don’t take action, we are putting ourselves and our children at risk of another global pandemic in the coming years.”
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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at hslf.org/blog, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.