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    The Role of Wet Markets and Wild Life Markets in the Pandemic

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    Wet markets have been around for centuries and they have been the source for food for many. Wet markets are located all around the globe as they sell fresh meat, fish and produce that are supervised by governments so in consequence they are not technically dangerous while wild life markets slaughter live animals for consumption with the knowledge of the governments that those animals up for slaughter might have tendencies to be dangerous and should not be consumed. Throughout the duration of the pandemic that we are going through, both “wet markets” and “wild life market” have been mingled together by the media. There have been a lot of discussion on how wet markets should be shut down permanently as they have caused the spread of disease in the past and seem to continue to do so. However, not a lot have knowledge that “wild-life markets” are the real cause but by closing them we would be stripping people away from their culture and tradition.

    Wild life trade refers to the products that are derived from non-domesticated animals or plants that are either extracted from their habitat or raised under controlled conditions. wildlife trade is worth more than 73 billion dollars according to a 2017 Chinese government report. Although, the consumption of rare wild life meat is not very common in big cities in China, and consumers usually must travel long distance to purchase the meats. There have been past outbreaks of viruses such as SARS which caused several authorities to act in controlling the wild life trade; banning the sale of civet cats and snakes that thought to be the cause of SARS but many of the bans were not enforced or subtly removed. After the Coronavirus outbreak the authorities have temporarily banned the wildlife trade but later 94% of the China’s wet markets have reopened but it is not clear how many of them are for wild animal trade. If the wild life trade is that worthwhile in China; there should be restrictions on what type of wild animals can be traded and there should be educational programs for the workers that slaughter the animals and farm them, so the chances of a new pandemic accruing could be less. Moreover, wildlife trade should be stopped completely. They are helping the extinction of animals and the wild life. I do comprehend that a huge percentage of the wild animals being slaughtered and sold are for ancient traditions such as medicines and specific cultural dishes but also there should be other ways to celebrate and remember ancient traditions without harming animals that face extinction and humanity

    Pandemics caused by viruses is not a new national trend. According to the academic journal “Unanswered questions about the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)” in June 3, 2014 MERS-CoV reportedly infected 688 people and killed 282. The virus was identified in camels; however, the way of the transmission of the virus remains unknown. Another example stated by an article written by Christian Keenan; in November 2002, doctors in Guangdong province of Southeastern China began to see the first cases of what would become known as SARS also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome. About 8,096 people in 26 countries contracted the new viral virus, which leaded to 774 deaths. It was said that the virus transmitted from bats to humans. Both of those virus pandemics had two things in common; they both attacked the respiratory system in an unknown matter and they also were transmitted from animals. “useless eaters” or “useless mouths” are a phrase that originated in Nazi Germany.

    Which means those who deemed unworthy of life, who included; Jews, people with serious medical problems or disabilities and those who are unable or unwilling to work. Overpopulation is Chinas main obstacle of the economic development in China; ‘The birth rate in China in 2017 was 1.680 births per woman, 1.690 in 2018, and 1.693 in 2019’, according to the United Nations Population Division. Which lead authorities to implement the one child policy and even with it happening. Due to the overpopulation shortage of food, population, poor living conditions and many more were affecting the citizens of the country. That is when exotic wildlife markets came in for the rescue as wildlife trade is one of the trades that is worth a great deal of money. As expressed by a 2017 Chinese government report that wildlife trade is worth more than 73 billion dollars. It was a way to help maintain the expenses that was caused by the overpopulation, so families that can not afford a living can farm those animals and sell them in the markets to earn money to live from and to buy more animals and farm them; in a way it is like every family can buy it’s own breed of exotic wild animals and start a family business. Following the huge virus outbreak all the mentioned above was banned. As strict wildlife trade policies needed to be conducted.

    Racism. Racism is discrimination directed against a person or people based on their membership in a racial or ethnic group. Racism has always been a great issue throughout the whole world, but it increased heavily due to the pandemic; before World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, social media truly exploded with hate and mockery on how China started the pandemic by eating bats and other wild animals that most nations do not consume. It started to accelerate to physical assault; an east Asian student assaulted in ‘racist’ coronavirus attack in London as stated by a Jack Guy, CNN. Not only did the pandemic strike a fueled wave of discrimination towards the Asian ethnic group but it also caused massive stress on front-line health workers and the availability of space in hospital to accept new cases of diseased patients it also forced many to lose their jobs due to the closure of the wet markets and due to social distancing to help control the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, a growing chorus of voices is demanding China to fully lockdown their wet markets since they play a huge role breeding ground for devasting outbreaks. The main reason for those accusations was that there was no good media coverage on specifically how the virus had the chance to spread and instead wet markets and wildlife markets were spoken about as one body throughout social media and reports. Closing wet markets in general will cause massive economy destruction in China and any other country that needs the support to be able to have good income flow.

    As explained before, most of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful which is a small minority. The animals that are slaughtered and sold in the same market is due to a decision the China’s government made decades ago; back in the 1970’s China was breaking down due to famine that killed over 36 million people and the communist regime which controlled all food production failed to feed people. On the verge of collapsing it gave up and allowed private farming and that’s how small businesses that farm wildlife animals for trade exit today. This clarifies that the people of China themselves are victims of the conditions that lead to past and present pandemics. This virus is affecting many different countries and cultures, and there is never a justification for xenophobia or racism. Those farmers were only trying to sustain themselves and since those type of wildlife farming sustained people and made their bellies full the Chinese government backed it and encouraged people to make living by increasing those farming.

    It did not stop there, in 1988 the Chinese government have enacted the wildlife protection law which states that wildlife animals resources will be owned by the state, protected people who farm and sell those animals and motivated the domestication and the breeding of wildlife; an industry to a gateway full of animal transmitted viruses with no cure was open. What was such a small farm that breeds few animals turned into a bigger farm with a wide variety of animals with the knowledge of the government. The legal wildlife industry started booming it was also a cover for an illegal trade of wildlife for endangered animals such as tigers, rhinoceros and more. Although, after the first SARS outbreak that was caused by the wildlife trade the government still motivated the animal trade with full knowledge that it is dangerous to the whole world. Talk about a corrupted government!

    On balance, we all can agree that corrupted governments and authority figures that care more about the economy and their monthly income can be the cause to many more pandemics to occur. The people of China or of any country do not deserve the bashing and racism that they received due to a matter out of their hand; I deeply apologize, you deserve more people to speak the truth when they see it. They did not write their own policies or go their own way to allow wild animal trade. If wet markets are forced to be shut down, then all wet markets around the world need to be shut down. Stripping people away from their daily income no matter if its small or big is not fair, but what is fair is to shut down the whole wildlife animal trade that the government allowed that put the whole globe in danger.

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    The Role of Wet Markets and Wild Life Markets in the Pandemic. (2022, Nov 30). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-role-of-wet-markets-and-wild-life-markets-in-the-pandemic/

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