Can the Bushmeat Ban Prevent Another Wave of COVID Spike?
TAIPEI, Taiwan – December 21, 2020 – ( Newswire.com )
While most people are desperate to get over this dreadful year of pandemic, the arrival of the COVID vaccine has brought hope for 2021. However, is the bushmeat ban in China and certain Southeast Asian countries enough to stop the spread of the novel virus? The World Dog Alliance found out that dog and cat meat has become the new “exotic meat” in countries including Vietnam, Cambodia and China over the past few months, posing a huge risk of zoonotic diseases to the world.
In early 2020, soon after the breakout of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the Chinese government swiftly outlawed the consumption and trade of bushmeat on 24th February. The decision was hailed as “the symbol of an era without bushmeat” by the Chinese media. On 29th May, the Ministry of Agriculture of China issued the “National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources”, removing dog from the list of edible livestock. Some media interpreted it as a ban on dog meat, but is that true?
The Chinese city of Shenzhen banned dog and cat meat on 1st May, the city of Zhuhai also made dog and cat meat illegal to abide by the National Catalogue. However, law enforcers in most regions of China refused to accept complaints about dog and cat meat trade, citing the lack of law to prohibit such. The notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival was held on 21st June as usual, even more bustling because of the shift of international attention. Signboards advertising “dog meat for the summer solstice” were put up during the festival; dog meat traders even claimed “eating dog meat prevents pandemics” to attract diners.
Dog meat, much like bushmeat, has long been regarded as food with medical properties in countries like China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Cambodia. Since diners have no choice but to give up on bushmeat due to the coronavirus and pressure of public opinion, they instead turn to dog meat which is touted as the holy grail of pandemic prevention.
In early April, animal welfare group Four Paws found out that the sale volume of dog meat in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia went up during the pandemic, it surged even faster after the WHO indicated that there is no scientific evidence that companion animals can be a source of infection. Some hospitals encouraged patients to eat dog meat to stay healthy; dog meat restaurants provide online delivery service to boost sales.
In July, the Cambodian province of Siem Reap, the main dog meat provider for the 110 restaurants in the capital city of Phnom Penh, became the first province banning dog meat trade in response to the rising risk of rabies breakout. The Indian state of Nagaland also implemented the same ban. Just like Shenzhen and Zhuhai, they all are special cases of their countries. Asia, where over 30 million dogs are slaughtered for food every year, is a high risk area for a pandemic breakout. Genlin, founder of the World Dog Alliance, believes humans need to figure out a way to achieve the harmonious trinity of human, animal and environment, so all living beings may live and thrive. By this token, humans’ endless desire and exploit of animals must be stopped. Animal ethic is the realm we should explore after animal welfare.
What animals should not be eaten? The concept of companion animals adopted by developed countries is the obvious answer. The International Agreement to Prohibit the Eating of Dogs and Cats, supported by lawmakers in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, is the only means to speed up the global effort to eradicate the consumption of dog and cat meat. Let’s hope the International Agreement will teach the world to treat animals kindly and achieve a long-lasting peace.