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‘Put Politics Aside’: Animal rights organization urges W.H.O. to call for an end to live animal markets

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The W.H.O.’s current position in supporting live animal markets contradicts guidelines issued in 2006 that describe 'wet' markets as 'optimal' for creating virus outbreaks.

FRANCES MARTEL: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched an international petition urging the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to call for the end of “wet markets” in response to the current Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which may have originated in one. The president of PETA, Ingrid E. Newkirk, also sent a letter addressed to W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in March encouraging him and his organization to “call for the closure of all live-animal meat markets worldwide to prevent the next outbreak”…

“To protect the public, W.H.O. needs to act quickly, put politics aside, and protect millions of human lives by shutting down all live-animal markets worldwide, from China to New York,” a PETA representative told Breitbart News in remarks this week… “Virologists agree that markets where sick and stressed animals are caged amid their own waste are breeding grounds for deadly influenza viruses and other diseases that cross the species barrier — and that only luck has prevented previous pandemics,” PETA continued. “Eating meat is unnecessary and unhealthy, and as long as live-animal markets are allowed to operate, humans will continue to be at risk and countless animals will needlessly endure miserable lives and a violent, painful death.”

In addition to calling for the closure of wet markets in China, the PETA representative also identified several other areas of concern for the animal rights group, just as Southeast Asia and New York: “In New York City alone, there are more than 80 live-animal markets and slaughterhouses still operating near schools, parks, and family residences. Thousands of terrified animals are trucked from factory farms in other states into the city each day in cramped, filthy crates.”

PETA’s petition calling for W.H.O. action has attracted over 135,000 signatures at press time. The text of the petition notes that scientists have traced multiple viruses back to animal consumption, including “Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, Ebola, and other diseases”… In Southeast Asia, where many of these markets operate, there is growing evidence that residents are overwhelmingly supportive of shutting them down. A World Wildlife Fund (WWF) survey published in March found 93 percent of people polled in the region supported “action by their governments to eliminate illegal and unregulated wildlife markets”…

The Chinese government… reopened the nation’s wet markets in mid-April… The World Health Organization did not issue any opposition to the reopening of China’s markets… In a briefing, on April 17, Tedros defended the markets… The decision to reopen the markets triggered outrage around the world outside of animal rights circles… “Wet markets, as you know, are an important source of affordable food and livelihood for millions of people around the world. But in many places, they have been poorly regulated and poorly maintained,” Tedros said. “W.H.O.’s positions is that, when these markets are allowed to reopen, it should only be under the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards”…

The W.H.O.’s remarks this year regarding wet markets appear to contradict guidelines issued in 2006 that describe them as “optimal” for creating outbreaks. “The live animal markets or wet markets provide optimal conditions for the zoonotic transfer and evolution of infectious disease agents. Traditional Asian wet markets provide major contact points for people and live animal mixing, making them important potential sources of viral amplification and infection,” the guidelines read…

PETA refuted the claim that wet markets are necessary for the nutrition of residents around them in its statement to Breitbart News. “Markets throughout Asia typically have an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, tofu, seitan, and legumes that are much healthier than meat and less expensive than live animals,” the PETA representative noted. “Staples like beans and whole grains can often be bought cheaply in bulk — sometimes, even at local dollar stores — and are great sources of necessary nutrients like protein and fiber, without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat. They are affordable, too, and can be used to make filling dishes like chili and tacos.”

“It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down. I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH) and a member of the White House’s coronavirus pandemic task force, said in response. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was “unfathomable” for the W.H.O. not to oppose the reopening of the markets and declared himself “totally puzzled” by their continued existence. SOURCE…

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