The prominent British naturalist and primatologist Jane Goodall, has warned that humanity will be “finished” if we don’t drastically change the way we produce and eat food, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global climate crisis
Goodall blamed the emergence of COVID-19 on the over-exploitation of the natural world, the novel coronavirus is thought to have transmitted from animals to humans late last year, possibly originating in a wet market in Wuhan, China. On top of this, our exploitation has seen forests cut down, natural habitats destroyed and species made extinct.
This comes after China’s agricultural ministry has just reclassified dogs as pets in the country and has removed dogs from the national list of livestock.
“We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment,”
“Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”
She said that as a society, we must move away from factory farming and stop destroying natural habitats as a matter of urgency, because of the threat of diseases, as well as further environmental damage. Factory farming has also been linked to a rise in antibiotic-resistant viruses, which have the chance of threatening human health.
“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.”
This comes after new analysis shows that there are 500 species on the brink of extinction, as many as were lost the past hundred years.
Goodall has called for people to be lifted from poverty, pointing out how much of a strong impact poverty has on the environment, as some people have no alternatives and who are desperate to feed their families with anything that they can in order to survive, and in urban areas will choose the cheapest sustenance regardless of the harm that is caused by the production of this food, because they don’t have any other choice.
War and violence have also fuelled the destruction of the natural world, she has said, and so has the societal obsession with consumerism and the urge for “stuff that we accumulate”, as well as what our diets consist of.
She Believes that the wealthier members of our society should apply pressure to those in power, in order to take care over what they purchase to avoid exacerbating the environmental problems. Regarding companies that use factory farming and exploit nature, she has said:
“We have got to stop buying their products,”
“We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world,” she warned, saying there was only a small window of opportunity to make drastic changes before facing disaster. “One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods. For the sake of the animals, planet and the health of our children.”
The EU’s commissioner for health and food safety, Stella Kyriakides, has said that the EU was responding to such concerns through its newly unveiled agriculture and biodiversity strategies and the European Green Deal.
Janusz Wojciechowski, EU commissioner for agriculture, added:
“We will constantly support sustainable farming and breeding practices as an alternative to intensive industrial farming.”
Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR and CIO of Coller Capital, said: “Factory farming is both vulnerable to pandemics and guilty of creating them. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle that destroys value and risks lives. To avoid causing the next pandemic, the meat industry must tackle lax safety standards for food and workers alike, closely confined animals, and overused antibiotics. COVID could be the straw that breaks the meat industry’s back.”