Jane Goodall Humanity Is Doomed If We Don’t Change After Pandemic

November 20, 2020

Primatologist Jane Goodall says that humans must “radically change our diet” and the way we treat wild and farmed animals if we want to avoid future pandemics after COVID-19 fades.

According to The Guardian, Goodall said at an online event hosted by campaign group World Farming Compassion on June 2: “Our lack of respect for wild animals and our lack of respect for farmed animals has created a situation where this disease could spread to infect humans.

“If we don’t do something different, we’re screwed,” she said.” We can’t go on like this.”

Goodall pointed to habitat destruction, farming and eating wildlife, illegal wildlife trafficking and factory farming as dangerous practices that could fuel the next pandemic. These practices have triggered disease outbreaks in the past, according to The Guardian.

According to Mongabay, habitat loss, primarily caused by deforestation, drives animals into new environments, leading both to the mixing of different animal species and to increased interaction with nearby humans.” Whether it is humans entering forested areas or animals coming to human settlements due to deforestation, the virus is exchanged.” Rajan Patil, associate professor of epidemiology at SRM College of Science and Technology, Chennai, India, told Mongabay.

For example, according to a 2018 report in the Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, Patil’s research team found that several outbreaks of Nipah and Hendra viruses were linked to fruit bats relocating to human settlements after their natural habitat was destroyed.

So-called wet markets, where wildlife may be sold along with livestock and produce, are also major sites of disease transmission between animals and humans, Goodall wrote in a review of Mongabay published on May 4.

Initially, scientists suspected that COVID-19 might be present at the South China Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, after a super-spreader incident in late December infected dozens of suppliers and customers with the virus. According to Live Science, recent data suggests that the outbreak did not originate specifically at that market, but likely began spreading elsewhere and earlier this year.

Regardless of where COVID-19 first appeared, moist markets around the world provide “the perfect environment for the virus to spread from animal hosts to humans,” as both animals and humans can be exposed to feces, urine, blood, and other bodily fluids of many species in one place, Goodell wrote. She added: “Obviously, it is important that the ban on buying, selling, eating and breeding wild animals for food should be permanent and should be enforced”, but to be sustainable, new sources of income need to be created for those who trade for a living.

Importantly, “not only in China, wildlife markets provide ideal conditions for viruses and other pathogens to cross species barriers,” she writes. Many wet markets exist in Asian countries outside of China, according to Vox, and Goodall writes that wet markets are also occurring in Africa and Latin America. More broadly, the sale of bushmeat, meaning meat from wild animals, poses a risk beyond the context of wet markets and is likely to spur outbreaks of HIV/AIDS in Africa, for example, she writes.

Wet market animals may also be sold illegally as pets for their pelts or for use in traditional medicines, she added.” So far, some wildlife products used in traditional medicine are still legal in China (although rhino horn and tiger bones are banned),” Goodall writes. The practice of farming brown and sun bears for their bile also remains legal and can lead to the spread of disease, she said.

Bears raised for bile are often kept in small cages, exposed to a variety of pathogens and contaminants due to poor sanitation standards, and given high doses of antibiotics that can cause drug-resistant superbugs, Goodall writes. The same standard of care can be seen in intensive industrial farming, also known as factory farming.

She writes, “Diseases commonly referred to as ‘bird flu’ and ‘swine flu’ are the result of handling poultry and pigs.” And the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) may have emerged from infected domestic dromedaries.

At the Compassion in World Farming event, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides noted that the EU aims to curb the dangers of factory farming through a new agriculture and biodiversity strategy and a “European Green Deal”. According to The Guardian, these initiatives focus on reducing the use of pesticides and supporting sustainable agriculture and farming practices, while ensuring that food remains affordable.

“One of the lessons to be learned from this crisis is that we have to change our ways,” Goodell said at the event.” Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must radically change our diets and shift to plant-rich foods. For the health of animals, the planet and our children, we must change our diets.”