There is an urgent need to reassess the way humans interact with animals on a global scale in response to COVID-19—a global pandemic that is thought to have originated in a “wet” animal market in Wuhan, China late last year. While China responded to the pandemic by outlawing its wildlife trade industry in February, KBC believes that further action needs to be taken across industries, including animal agriculture.

“Karner Blue Capital expresses sympathy for people whose lives have been personally affected by COVID-19 and is grateful to all agencies and organizations fighting to contain the spread of the disease,” KBC President Vicki Benjamin said. “While the health and economic effects of the outbreak require immediate attention, we want people to recognize that the rise and spread of this disease isn’t anything unpredictable.

It’s a derivative of reckless animal handling and consumption practices, and it demonstrates the essential need for human beings to compassionately share the planet with other species.” KBC acknowledges that closing wet markets is helpful but not enough to prevent future pandemics that could originate from the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, trophy hunting, the bushmeat trade (which is thought to be the origin of AIDS), and loss of habitat—driven by animal agriculture industry—which pushes wild animals into new territories.

Mitigating climate change is also a key factor in preventing future pandemics as warming temperatures could give rise to new pathogens. “If we don’t take animal welfare seriously in all aspects of our lives, this will become the new normal,” Benjamin said. “Shutting down or regulating China’s wet markets will wipe out a dangerous set of human-animal interactions, but it’s just one step toward sound public health policies and interactions. We need to completely rethink our relationship with animals and begin taking steps to transition toward regenerative agriculture, biodiversity protection, and a plant-based economy.”

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