Tillis, 60 members of Congress seek global ban on live wildlife markets and trading

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined a bipartisan group of 60 members of Congress in requesting that global organizations collectively and permanently ban both live wildlife markets and international wildlife trading toward helping to prevent the next pandemic.

The congressional members specifically asked the organizations “to take aggressive action toward a global shut down of live wildlife markets and a ban on the international trade of live wildlife that is not intended for conservation purposes,” according to their April 8 letter sent to the directors-general of the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Global action is needed to prevent future deadly pandemics,” Sen. Tillis and his colleagues wrote. “It is imperative that we take action as a global community to protect public health.”

A permanent global ban of live wildlife markets, also known as “wet” markets, as well as a ban on the international trade of live wildlife would reduce what’s become a breeding ground for infectious diseases.

In fact, according to their letter, scientists estimate roughly 60 percent to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic and have been responsible for at least five pandemics over the last 45 years, including Ebola and MERS. COVID-19 is suspected to have originated from a wet market in China.

Sen. Tillis and the members noted that the spread of pathogens from animals to humans through handling and consumption of wildlife potentially could start “highly contagious outbreaks of new and deadly diseases for which we have no natural immunity — as we are currently seeing with COVID-19 and have seen with SARS, Ebola, monkeypox and Lassa fever in the recent past.”

And, they pointed out, wet markets in particular pose a threat to global public health because wildlife comes from many different locations without any standardized sanitary or health inspection processes.

“It is clear that to protect human health, these close and sustained interactions with wildlife must stop,” wrote Sen. Tillis and his colleagues.