WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced a bipartisan bill, the Preventing Future Pandemics Act, which would direct the State Department to work with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and stop the associated wildlife trade, end the import, export and sale of live wildlife for human consumption in the United States, and phase out demand for wildlife as a food source. A companion bill was also introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

COVID-19 is just the latest in a long line of zoonotic epidemics, joining SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and many others as pathogens which initially emerged from wildlife, making the jump to people directly or indirectly through activities such as the butchering or eating of wildlife.

“From SARS to Ebola to COVID-19, the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to people is a persistent threat to global public health, and we know that commercial wildlife markets and the international wildlife trade significantly increase that risk,” said Sen. Booker. “As we continue to fight to get the spread of COVID-19 under control here in the United States, we must also be working with our international partners to prevent another deadly pandemic from occurring; that means working urgently to shut down commercial wildlife markets and end the international trade in live wildlife.”

“The simple fact is that through continued consumption of wildlife and the persistence of the unsanitary conditions at wildlife markets, the emergence of the next zoonotic pandemic is a matter of when, not if. Close contact between humans and wild animals, and especially human consumption, is a threat to global health. As climate change and encroaching development drive people and wildlife closer together, it is imperative that we stop thinking of conservation and public health as separate issues,” said Rep. Quigley. “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act takes aim at wildlife markets and the trade that supplies them, positioning America as the global leader in replacing wild protein sources with safe alternatives and fighting to ensure that nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic happens again.”

“Abusive and unsanitary practices with animals can directly contribute to dangerous diseases – like COVID-19,” said Rep. Upton. “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act is commonsense legislation that would take a major step toward ensuring we never have another public health crisis like the once we’re facing today. If we don’t take action, we are putting ourselves and our children at risk of another global pandemic in the coming years.”

“The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene applauds Senator Booker’s attention to the issue of One Health which recognizes the interconnectedness between the health of people, animals and the environment. The Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020 wisely focuses on One Health strategies as a necessary tool to address emerging infectious diseases and future pandemics. Senator Booker understands two things very well: policy must be rooted in science, and international cooperation will bring long lasting policy solutions,” said The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

"Wildlife markets are a leading pandemic risk factor and are contributing to the massive, worldwide loss of biodiversity we are facing,” said Keith Martin MD, PC, Executive Director for Consortium of Universities for Global Health. “The Preventing Future Pandemics Act' strikes an effective balance between protecting public health and the need for communities to access the food they need.”

Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020:

  • Establishes the official foreign policy of the United States to work with state and non-state partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets, end the trade in terrestrial wildlife for human consumption, and build international coalitions to reduce the demand for wildlife as food, recognizing that there are still rural communities around the world that lack adequate alternative food sources.
  • Gives the State Department a wide variety of tools, including economic and diplomatic penalties, to crack down on wildlife markets and the global wildlife trade for human consumption.
  • Authorizes funding for USAID to work on reducing demand for consumption of wildlife from wildlife markets and support shifts to diversified alternative sources of food and protein in communities that rely upon the consumption of wildlife for food security while ensuring that existing wildlife habitat is not encroached upon or destroyed as part of this process.
  • Prohibits the import, export and sale of live wildlife in the United States for purposes of human consumption as food or medicine.
  • Authorizes the hiring and international deployment of 50 new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Attachés in an effort to disrupt illegal wildlife trafficking abroad.

The full text of the bill can be downloaded here.