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July 16, 2020 - The Ecologist

Meat and pandemics: the surprising link

Meat and pandemics: the surprising link
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Meat is a threat to national security. Unless society notices, we won't prevent future pandemics.

How do we prevent future pandemics? This is the question on everyone's minds as lockdown is slowly lifted. Society won’t grasp the answer until it faces up to an uncomfortable truth. We might love it dearly, but meat is a key factor in the origin of pandemics. Scientists have told us that meat from a Chinese wet market may have caused Covid-19 to jump to humans. Many of us accept this widely held explanation.

This is not an isolated case. Tracing the history of pandemics reveals a more sinister lesson, about meat production in general. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 killed up to 575,400 people in a year. The cause of its origin in humans? The international trade of pig meat between America and Eurasia, according to the US Center for Disease Control.

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