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China's new wildlife law doesn't go far enough to stop another pandemic

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The biodiversity crisis -- the rapid and escalating disintegration of the living systems upon which we all depend -- has in many ways been overshadowed in 2020.

High-level discussion of the potential role that the wildlife trade played in triggering the pandemic meant that, for a brief period at least, political and public attention honed in on the commercial exploitation of wild animals.

Hopes that this newfound attention might convince key governments to adopt a more cautious approach were bolstered in February, when China announced a ban on the trade and consumption of all wild animals as food.

The legislation has long been controversial; despite its stated intention to protect wild animals, its language often permits commercial trade in wildlife -- even endangered species.

Following the announcement, Chinese NGOs, academics, medical experts and lawmakers publicly called for bans to be extended to include the use of wild animals in China's traditional medicine industry.

On one hand, it consolidates what remains one of the most ambitious policy changes adopted by any government in response to Covid-triggered concerns over wildlife trade -- a near comprehensive ban on breeding, selling and consuming terrestrial wild animals as food.

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