The following statement is from John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs of the Wildlife Conservation Society in support of Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020. The legislation, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI), calls for:

  • Banning the import, export and sale of live wildlife for human consumption and making it U.S. policy to facilitate international cooperation on supporting wildlife market closure in other countries.
  • Providing a $300 million authorization for USAID to reduce demand for consumption of wildlife and associated wildlife markets and supporting shifts to diversified alternative sources of food and protein in communities that rely upon the consumption of wildlife for food security.
  • Increase the monitoring of the spread of zoonotic diseases to better protect human health.
  • Directing $150 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deploy at least 50 new law enforcement attaches at U.S. embassies and consulates in countries that are struggling most to combat wildlife trafficking.
  • Directing the National Academy of Sciences to study the role and impact of the consumption of terrestrial wildlife by humans on the emergence of novel viral pathogens.

Said John F. Calvelli:

“The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) supports the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020. WCS commends Senators John Cornyn and Cory Booker and Representatives Mike Quigley and Fred Upton for their leadership in introducing this legislation, which would take important steps to prevent future pandemics of zoonotic origin.

“WCS has been tracking emerging zoonotic diseases – those diseases shared by wildlife and humans – for more than two decades. Our findings are sobering. The continuing ecological destruction of wild places and plundering of wildlife is increasing the risk of diseases to spillover from animals to people.

“WCS’s own policy on reducing the risk of future zoonotic pandemics dovetails well with this legislation introduced by Sens. Cornyn and Booker and Reps. Quigley and Upton. Each underscores the risk that wildlife markets trading in live and fresh terrestrial wildlife for human consumption pose to our health. They are ticking time bombs of viruses and pathogens ready to explode and do untold harm.”

“Ending the commercial international trade in live and fresh terrestrial wildlife and commercial wildlife markets for human consumption is not only good for conservation—it is critical for the health, safety, and economic future of our planet. If we protect wildlife, we protect ourselves.”

“Over the past several months, we have all seen firsthand the devastating impact of COVID-19—a zoonotic disease strongly suspected to have emerged from a live wildlife market in Wuhan, China. This zoonotic disease has sickened millions and killed hundreds of thousands; it has laid waste to the global economy and impacted every facet of our lives.

“Our experts working on the frontlines fear that the next zoonotic disease could be far worse – with impacts that could shake society to its very core. The time for this legislation is right here, right now. We look forward to its swift passage for the sake of our planet.”