Coronavirus: PETA urges WHO to shut down live animal markets to prevent future pandemics

'No matter what species they are peddling, live-animal meat markets will continue to put the human population at risk as well as sentencing countless animals to a miserable death,' states the petition


                            Coronavirus: PETA urges WHO to shut down live animal markets to prevent future pandemics
(Wikimedia Commons)

The American animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has reportedly launched a petition urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to shut down live animal markets around the globe to prevent future pandemics like the one caused by the novel coronavirus.

With 48,920 signatures at the time of writing this, the petition states: “No matter what species they are peddling, live-animal meat markets will continue to put the human population at risk as well as sentencing countless animals to a miserable death.”

The petition lists Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, Ebola, and other diseases, claiming they are linked to meat production or consumption. “Not all of these come from live-animal markets — Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a variant of mad cow disease, for instance, can affect a person who has eaten certain body parts of an infected cow — but such markets, where stressed, injured, and sick animals are commonly caged in public areas, are perfect breeding grounds for diseases,” the petition reads.

It further states: “Although the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus is thought to have first infected humans, has closed and that country has banned the consumption and farming of ‘wild’ animals (hopefully, not only temporarily), it's important to note that diseases don't just affect animals humans have labeled as ‘wild’. Many wet markets continue to operate throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the US. There are more than 80 live-animal markets and slaughterhouses in New York City alone.” 

With more than 44,000 confirmed cases and 535 deaths as of Saturday, New York has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US. “Just as we don't want to be infected with or die from COVID-19, other animals don't want to suffer or be killed for food,” says PETA.

A spokesperson for the WHO told Newsweek that it was working with the International Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to study the issue.

In another recent blog, PETA said, “Zoonotic viruses don’t originate exclusively in wet markets. The types of animals most commonly connected to viral outbreaks in humans are chickens and pigs. And the US is home to countless farms where chickens are crammed together in small cages and pigs are packed in feces-ridden sheds as well as slaughterhouses where chickens and pigs are killed on floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. So while current events have many calling for an end to wet markets and the wildlife trade in Asia, it’s simply not enough.”

Petitions and blogs aside, PETA was recently at the receiving end of some ridicule after it tweeted, “Carnivorous is an anagram of coronavirus. Coincidence? We think NOT!”

But even as PETA continues to petition the WHO, wet markets selling bats among other animals, opened in China once again. China marked its victory over the epidemic by reopening meat markets with no apparent attempt to raise hygiene standards to prevent a future outbreak, said reports.

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