Escaping the era of pandemics? Stop nature destruction, restore biodiversity!
Experts worldwide are sounding the alarm: the human activities that lead to nature destruction, climate change, and animal suffering are also the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic and other pandemics. If we don't act, they will become more common in the future, spread faster, be more deadly, and cause even greater economic damage, they warn in a report by the IPBES that went public last week. "We can escape the era of pandemics, but this requires a much greater focus on prevention", said the chairman of the research group. The Dutch Party for the Animals also argues for this.
"The IPBES report provides yet another piece of scientific evidence that our health and society are seriously endangered by the disruption of nature as a result of factory farming, global free trade, and the current system based on unlimited economic growth. And that we can and must turn the tide!", said Esther Ouwehand, leader of the Party for the Animals.
Link pandemics and biodiversity
The COVID-19 pandemic, like previous pandemics, originated in germs in animals, but its outbreak is entirely caused by human activities, the report explains. "There is no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic", said Dr. Peter Daszak, head of the IPBES research group. "Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people. This is the path to pandemics."
The Dutch Party for the Animals and sister parties worldwide also emphasize the connection between the welfare of people and animals and the current economic and food system. The large-scale deforestation for animal feed and biofuels, international animal transports, the trade in wild animals, and the breeding of large numbers of animals in the meat, dairy, and fur industry are, according to these parties, a ticking time bomb. "The COVID-19 pandemic has once again made it clear that our interaction with animals and nature is not only unethical but also literally pathogenic", says Esther Ouwehand.
Turning the tide
The IPBES report calls on policymakers worldwide to take concrete action against overconsumption, intensive agriculture, rampant international free trade, and other activities that increase the risk of pandemics developing. "The fact that human activity has been able to fundamentally change our natural environment need not always be a negative outcome. It also provides convincing proof of our power to drive the change needed to reduce the risk of future pandemics – while simultaneously benefiting conservation and reducing climate change", the authors said. As an added incentive, they point out that the economic damage from the current pandemic is about a hundred times greater than the estimated cost of preventive action.
“We wholeheartedly support this call”, said Esther Ouwehand. "Fortunately, more and more people are realizing that factory farming - with the resulting deforestation, animal transport, climate change, and biodiversity loss - is the most costly mistake in world history." The Party for the Animals therefore fiercely opposed the new European Common Agricultural Policy that stimulates the meat industry with millions of euros in subsidies. Together with sister parties worldwide, it is committed to sustainable, non-toxic agriculture, reducing the number of farm animals and reducing the consumption of meat, an end to international animal transport, combating deforestation and loss of biodiversity, a ban on the trade in wild animals and fur production, and countering international free trade agreements such as Mercosur.