If it fails to support an end to wildlife markets, the World Health Organization would fail to protect human health

Humane Society International calls on WHO to clarify statements made in briefing

Humane Society International / Global


Masked man in Hong Kong market
Jayne Russell/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

WASHINGTON (May 8, 2020)—The Associated Press is reporting that a scientist from the World Health Organization does not support closing live animal markets, such as the one in Wuhan, China, linked to COVID-19. The remarks were reportedly made by WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek. The following is a statement from Teresa Telecky, Humane Society International’s vice president for wildlife:

“The remarks did not address the issue of wildlife sold for food in these markets — an important distinction, given scientific evidence that diseases such as COVID-19 and SARS originated in wildlife markets. In fact, on April 17,  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, ‘Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.’ We call on WHO to clarify Peter Ben Embarek’s remarks to reiterate that wild animals should not be sold at these markets.

“The wildlife trade caused the COVID-19 pandemic, and WHO has an obligation to advise countries to lower the risk of another pandemic by outlawing live wild animal markets.”

Last month, HSI published a white paper, detailing the link between wildlife markets and COVID-19.

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Media contact: Nancy Hwa, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-596-0808

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