Shut illegal meat markets, animal rights bodies to govt amid Covid-19 pandemic

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Mar 26, 2020 11:48 PM IST

Five national animal protection organisations have asked Union health minister Harsh Vardhan to shut illegal meat markets, unlicensed wildlife and pet markets with immediate effect.

Five animal rights organisations have asked Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to stop illegal meat markets
Five animal rights organisations have asked Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to stop illegal meat markets

In a joint letter to the minister, the People for Animals (PFA), Humane Society International/India (HSI/India), Mercy for Animals India Foundation (MFA), Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and Ahimsa Trust, said there are “unhygienic conditions” in which animals are raised and slaughtered/sold for food.

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The letter also said the government should take “immediate action” against markets that do not follow food safety guidelines (FSSAI guidelines) to prevent the emergence of novel diseases and spread of the current coronavirus disease.

The outbreak of Covid-19 is said to have emerged from a meat and wildlife market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, it said. In just a few months, the virus has infected half a million people and killed over 22,000 people world over.

Gauri Maulekhi, Trustee, People for Animals, said, “Increase in industrial slaughter and factory farming of animals, the unchecked trade in wildlife and crowding of various species of animals in close confinement has been an invitation to deadly epidemics. The connection is unmistakable. Let’s learn from our mistakes. We are hopeful that the Ministry of Health undertakes the suggested measures to rectify this crisis and safeguard this country’s health.”

The letter also said while regulations for slaughtering and transport of animals are unimplemented, there is no protocol for trait selection and housing of poultry or swing rearing. It also cited a Food and Agriculture Organisation report released in 2007 to say unsanitary and intensive confinement of animals grown for meat, the slaughterhouses, are fertile grounds for pathogen evolution and zoonotic transfers.

The novel virulent strains emerging from such conditions can result in pandemics that claim human & animal lives alike, the letter said, citing various research papers published on the subject in the past two decades.

“The science is clear, unless we act now on and end intensive confinement in animal agriculture, shut down live animal/meat markets, such disastrous pandemics will continue to be commonplace,” said Maulekhi, in the letter.

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