A better understanding of “wet markets” is key to safeguarding human health and biodiversity

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Governments have pushed for the closure of so-called “wet markets” around the world, but this is not an effective policy solution, according to Princeton University researchers. Instead, policymakers should focus on the most risky aspects of markets to avoid disruption to local food supply chains, while reducing the dangers to human health and biodiversity. Credit: Ginette Lai, Taiwan

Great uncertainty surrounds the origins of SARS-CoV-2. At first, some suggested a link between COVID-19 and a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Other theories are currently circulating, although the origins of the virus are still unknown.

In response, governments have pushed for the closure of so-called “wet markets” around the world, but this is not an effective policy solution, Princeton University researchers report.

A widespread closure of all wet markets could have the unintended consequences of disrupting critical food supply chains and stimulating unregulated black. per , and feed xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment. In addition, most of these informal markets, which specialize in fresh meat, seafood, and other perishable items in outdoor environments, pose little risk to human health or biodiversity.

The researchers argue in the journal that policy makers, on the other hand, should focus on the most risky aspects of markets to avoid disruptions to local food supply chains, while reducing the dangers to human health and biodiversity. Planetary Health Lancet. Markets that sell live animals, especially live wild animals, pose the greatest risks to human health and biodiversity, the researchers conclude.

“The use of the term ‘wet market’ is linked to negative nuances, especially in light of COVID-19. I think this is due, in part, to a misunderstanding of what these markets really are and the ways in which they are may differ significantly from In the face of this confusion, the term is slowly being replaced in academic and popular literature by more specific terminology, ”said the study’s lead author, Bing Lin, a sophomore. student of the environmental science, technology and policy program at Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. “Our research provides some clarity on what wet markets are and provides clarity on how to consider and classify their risks.”

A better understanding of the

A better understanding of wetlands markets is key to safeguarding human health and biodiversity, Princeton University researchers report. In a study published by Planetary Health Lancet, analyzed the different types of markets (such as the one shown in Taipei, Taiwan), how they work, and the risk they pose to people and wildlife. Credit: Ginette Lai, Taiwan

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many nations temporarily closed their wet markets, but this will not last; eventually some will open, while others will be more closely regulated or closed,” said the co-author of the study. David S. Wilcove, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute and core faculty member at the Princeton Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. “Our work presents a way to know which ones are worth focusing on in a stricter regulation or closure.”

Lin and Wilcove began with a definition of wet markets, which sell perishable, consumer-oriented products in a non-supermarket environment. These markets were named for their frequently wet soils, the result of regular washing to keep food stalls clean and melting ice to keep food fresh. Wildlife markets, on the other hand, sell untamed wild animals and live animal markets sell live animals. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, considered a possible source of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a wet market, a live animal market, and an all-in-one wildlife market.

To help policymakers distinguish relatively benign markets from dangerous markets, Bing and colleagues looked at the different types of markets, how they work, and the risk they pose to people and wildlife. They then developed a unique framework that identifies the main risks associated with these markets, such as size and cleanliness, whether they sell animals at high risk of disease, and the presence of live animals, among other factors.

For the paper, Lin and Wilcove turned to the peer-reviewed medical literature on markets from July to December 2020. They assessed six specific risks that informal markets may pose to human health: the sale of animals with high risk of disease; the presence of live animals; hygiene conditions; market size; animal density and mixture between species; and the length and scale of animal supply chains. They also identified factors that pose risks to biodiversity, including the sale of endangered and declining wildlife species.

A better understanding of the

Wet markets sell perishable, consumer-oriented products in a non-supermarket environment. Wildlife markets, on the other hand, sell untamed wild animals and live animal markets sell live animals. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, considered a possible source of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a wet market, a live animal market, and an all-in-one wildlife market. Credit: Bing Lin, Princeton University

They report that numerous wet markets around the world only sell processed domesticated animals such as poultry. These include all markets in Singapore and Taiwan and farmers markets in the United States. A smaller number of markets sell live domestic animals. Fewer still sell wild animals, dead or alive, alongside livestock or domesticated meat .

By comparing all of these, the markets are selling they pose the greatest risks to human health and biodiversity, especially if sold live —That they are related to emerging infectious diseases. These are the markets that policy makers should target when trying to mitigate future outbreaks of infectious diseases, according to the researchers.

“Growing up in metropolitan Indonesia and in the midst of the bustle of central Taiwan, I knew from experience that wet markets differ drastically in their composition and constitution,” Lin said, “and good policy should be based on a clear understanding. , but nuanced, of the different types of markets and their associated and variable risks. We believe that specific risk-adjusted policies are preferable to mitigate higher market risks than short-term but ineffective changes. “

Researchers point out that these markets are not the only ones responsible for global pandemics. Instead, they represent a node of zoonotic transmission potential along the global wildlife trade supply chain. They hope that future research will continue to quantify the risk factors posed by these markets so that policymakers can better safeguard human health and biodiversity.

The document “Better classification of wet markets is key to safeguarding and biodiversity “, published on June 10 in Planetary Health Lancet.


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Citation: A better understanding of “wet markets” is key to safeguarding human health and biodiversity (2021, June 10) retrieved June 10, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-key- safeguarding-human-health- biodiversity.html

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