Sens. Cornyn and Booker Bill Addresses Wildlife Trade and Prevent Pandemics

Washington, D.C. – COVID-19 is causing massive disruption and heartbreak across America. Millions have become ill and hundreds of thousands have died from this zoonotic virus. It appears this crisis originated with humans’ unsustainable approach to the exploitation of wildlife (plants and animals)—in this instance, wildlife trade.  

Wildlife trade is one of the leading causes of the extinction crisis we are experiencing according to the IPBES Global Assessment Report. Experts believe that the current coronavirus likely originated with the close interaction with wildlife in a live animal market.  

The Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020 would have America begin the fight against future pandemics, both in the United States and internationally. The bill would take the important step of prohibiting the import to, export from, or sale within the United States of certain live terrestrial wildlife for the primary purpose of human consumption. It would call upon the State Department to work bilaterally, multilaterally, and through relevant international bodies to secure similar market closures by other countries, with special consideration for indigenous peoples in communities that are dependent on wildlife consumption for food security.

The legislation provides funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide technical and financial assistance to help those communities that rely on consumption of wildlife for food security to develop and transition to alternative sources of protein and directs USAID to increase its activities in global health, biodiversity, and combating wildlife trafficking. The bill would also increase resources for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hire, train, and deploy new law enforcement officers to provide technical support and professional expertise in countries of highest concern for illegal trade in at-risk species. 

By closing the trade in terrestrial live wildlife for human consumption in the United States and working internationally to end this trade, the Preventing Future Pandemics Act will reduce the risk for widespread outbreaks of zoonotic diseases and make the world safer for people and wildlife. 

Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We applaud the efforts of Senators Cornyn and Booker to address the root cause of pandemics—the unsustainable exploitation of wildlife. Efforts like the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020 will help to prevent future pandemics and reduce the impacts of wildlife trafficking and trade to the biodiversity crisis. We need healthy wildlife and nature so Americans can have thriving economies and be safe from future devastating disease.” 

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