Another critical reason to oppose industrial livestock farming. We already know that industrial agriculture is a major contributor to the climate crisis, and for years alarms have been raised about the inhumane treatment of industrial livestock animals. Now this new research warns us that serious contagious viruses like COVID-19 may be directly linked to the terrible conditions of industrial livestock production.
New research suggests industrial livestock, not wet markets, might be origin of Covid-19
GRAIN 30 Mar 2020
Let’s be clear: there is no solid evidence that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of the current Covid-19 disease pandemic, is an open seafood market in Wuhan that also trades in domestic and wild animals. All that we know is that several early cases of people diagnosed with Covid-19 either worked at this market or shopped there in the days preceding their diagnosis. Many media outlets and pundits have seized on this information to claim that Chinese wet markets and the live trade in domestic and wild animals are to blame for the emergence of the disease1. And some are even calling for a ban on wet markets— which are vital to the livelihoods and food security of millions of small farmers, traders and consumers2.
There is a growing body of evidence that points to a different origin story for Covid-19. We now know that none of the animals tested at the Wuhan seafood market tested positive and about a third of the initial set of reported cases in people in Wuhan from early December 2019 had no connection to the seafood market, including the first reported case 3 4 . And we also now know, thanks to the leak of an official Chinese report to the South China Morning Post that the actual first known case of Covid-19 in Hubei was detected in mid-November, weeks before the cluster of cases connected to the Wuhan seafood market were reported5.
Last week, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute published a genomic sequencing analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the journal Nature that raises more doubts about the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 having originated at the Wuhan seafood market6.
The scientists conclude that SARS-CoV-2 evolved from natural selection and not genetic engineering in a lab, and they say that this natural selection occurred through two possible scenarios. One is that it evolved into its highly pathogenic form within humans. In this case, a less pathogenic form of the virus would have jumped from an animal to a human host and then would have evolved into its current form through an “extended period” of “undetected human-to-human transmission”. Under this scenario, there is no reason to believe that the Wuhan seafood market had anything to do with the evolution of the disease, even if it is quite possible that an infected person at the market could have transmitted it to others.
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