By Dave Kovaleski – Homeland Preparedness News
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that seeks to shut down international commercial wildlife markets.
The Preventing Future Pandemics Act would direct the State Department to work with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and stop the associated wildlife trade. It also seeks to end the import, export, and sale of live wildlife for human consumption in the United States, as well as phase-out demand for wildlife as a food source.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has cost us over 400,000 American lives and nearly a year away from our friends and loved ones, and it is essential that the circumstances that allow deadly viruses like this to spread never happen again,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), one of the bill’s sponsors. said. “This legislation will encourage cooperation among the international community to put a stop to the unsanitary conditions that permit these viruses to be introduced in the first place.”
It was also co-sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Tom Carper (D-DE).
“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. “In order to prevent another deadly pandemic, we must work with our international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and end the international trade in live wildlife.”
The bill directs the Secretary of HHS to enlist the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on the impact of physical proximity and consumption of wildlife on the transmission of viral and other microbial pathogens. The study would also evaluate the conditions at live wildlife markets that lead to the transmission of zoonotic diseases.
Further, the bill seeks to set U.S. policy to facilitate international cooperation to disrupt and ultimately end the commercial wildlife trade associated with live wildlife markets. In addition, it looks to build international coalitions to support policy goals and authorizes sanctions on entities that license or engage in live wildlife markets and associated wildlife trafficking. It would also prohibit the import, export, and sale of certain live wild animals for human consumption, except where consumption is incidental to lawful hunting activity.
The Preventing Future Pandemics Act is supported by several organizations, including the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Humane Society of the United States.