OPINION: For the Sake of Mankind, End China’s Wet Food Markets. End Them Now.
China must prohibit the use of wet food markets throughout its country. It must end their use permanently and effectively, starting now. If it proves unwilling to meaningfully enforce laws against their operation, the United States and its allies throughout the world must be forceful in demanding the nation put an end to these biological threats to mankind, once and for all.
Wet food markets are a form of open-air market- perhaps roughly analogous to American farmer’s markets- where large, diverse collections of exotic animals are kept on queue for slaughter and sale.
Scientists believe that the coronavirus descends from viruses common to bats. The virus was likely to have been passed from a bat to a pangolin, adapting to its new host in a fashion that made it transmissible to humans.
Their connection to the coronavirus isn’t the first incident that’s caused the wet markets to become a target of international criticism. A Chinese wet food market is thought to be the place of origin of the 2003 outbreak of SARS, another novel viral disease. Wet food markets were banned by the Chinese government in light of that epidemic, but they’ve since been allowed to reopen, having a considerable parochial and lobbying interest with the nation’s government.
A video from Vox on the wet food market practice provides insight on the continuing wet food market practice in the country. The liberal media outlet caved to craven political correctness in light of its video’s viral impact, renaming the video from “Why new diseases keep appearing in China” to “How the wildlife trade causes pandemics.”
Experts trace the early cases of the Chinese coronavirus to a wet food market in Wuhan, China. The market was known to contain both bats and pangolins on a menu of animals offered for sale, making it an extremely plausible that the disease adapted to a form transmissible to humans there. It’s a repeat of the 2003 SARS epidemic, although we have every indication to believe the new coronavirus is every bit more lethal.
Some early observers and commentators surmised that the virus may have escaped from a biological laboratory, having originally been developed as a weapon. The likely source for the virus’s origin may be even more alarming. A laboratory is nominally under the control of scientific experts, whereas a wet food market is an open field. Animals with differing genetic structures- ranging from bats to pangolins(which are an endangered species) enter into close contact, passing on diseases that would never encounter diverse, global members of the animal kingdom in the wild.
A biological weapon is ultimately created for human control, but a viral disease that naturally emerges from a conglomeration of diverse animals is far beyond the control of man.
An expert on the Chinese animal trade cited by Vox maintains that the wet food markets are largely opposed by the majority of Chinese people, and one would hope that the people of China would force their government to end the practice once and for all, avoiding a repeat of the comeback of wet markets after the SARS epidemic. But it’s hard to quantify the degree of support that exotic wildlife trade and wet markets have in China, considering they’ve consistently found a way to stay open, despite harming China’s image and veritably being a public health risk to the global public. There are genuine popular movements in the country that oppose animal consumption practices westerners(and people from a diverse range of societies) find repellent, such as the Yulin Dog Market.
But the case of wet markets is far more pressing than slaughtering puppies. These institutions have reliably proven to be a serious danger to mankind. We can’t risk waiting for the next viral epidemic to emerge from a wet food market that creeps back open after public attention to the coronavirus scare fades away years from now, especially considering that it could potentially prove to be even more dangerous.
China has instituted new bans on the consumption and sale of wild animals in response to the coronavirus epidemic. But the tale will tell if the nation’s authoritarian government will effectively prohibit their practice, permanently.
The United States, and concerned nations of the world, can and must use their economic and political leverage to put these wet food markets to a full and permanent end, in the light of the most serious global health epidemic since World War II.