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Investigating the risks of removing wild meat from global food systems (Open Access)
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought humanity’s strained relationship with nature into sharp focus, with calls for cessation of wild meat trade and consumption, to protect public health and biodiversity.1,2 However, the importance of wild meat for human nutrition, and its tele-couplings to other food production systems, mean that the complete removal of wild meat from diets and markets would represent a shock to global food systems.3, 4, 5, 6 The negative consequences of this shock deserve consideration in policy responses to COVID-19. We demonstrate that the sudden policy-induced loss of wild meat from food systems could have negative consequences for people and nature. Loss of wild meat from diets could lead to food insecurity, due to reduced protein and nutrition, and/or drive land-use change to replace lost nutrients with animal agriculture, which could increase biodiversity loss and emerging infectious disease risk. We estimate the magnitude of these consequences for 83 countries, and qualitatively explore how prohibitions might play out in 10 case study places. Results indicate that risks are greatest for food-insecure developing nations, where feasible, sustainable, and socially desirable wild meat alternatives are limited. Some developed nations would also face shocks, and while high-capacity food systems could more easily adapt, certain places and people would be disproportionately impacted. We urge decision-makers to consider potential unintended consequences of policy-induced shocks amidst COVID-19; and take holistic approach to wildlife trade interventions, which acknowledge the interconnectivity of global food systems and nature, and include safeguards for vulnerable people.
Hollie Booth, Michael Clark, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Kofi Amponsah-Mensah, André Pinassi Antunes, Stephanie Brittain, Luciana C. Castilho, João Vitor Campos-Silva, Pedro de Araujo Lima Constantino, Yuhan Li, Lessah Mandoloma, Lotanna Micah Nneji, Donald Midoko Iponga, Boyson Moyo, James McNamara, O. Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, Jianbin Shi, Cédric Thibaut Kamogne Tagne, Julia van Velden, David R. Williams, Investigating the risks of removing wild meat from global food systems, Current Biology, Volume 31, Issue 8, 2021, Pages 1788-1797.e3, ISSN 0960-9822, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.079.
Published: Feb 2021 | Categories: Research Articles