Looking Forward to 2021, But Not Forgetting What Caused COVID-19
As we move into 2021 with the hope 🙏 🤞 that the hardships of 2020, brought on by COVID-19, will soon be gone, it’s important to remember what brought them here.
What we know is that the pandemic is epidemiologically linked to the HuaNan Seafood and Wet Animal Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China. The scientific consensus is that the virus originated in an animal, most likely a bat and that it was then transmitted to an intermediate host animal, possibly a pangolin, but it could also have been a farmed animal, a wild animal or a domesticated wild animal. What this ultimately means is that the animal was traded or sold or slaughtered at that market. Sad.
We also know that COVID-19 is the seventh (known) coronavirus to infect humans, and the third zoonotic virus outbreak to affect the world after SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
SARS is passed from animals to humans through close contact, butchering or consumption of undercooked infected meats.
MERS emerged with the rapid growth in the camel population, kept for meat and milk, in Saudi Arabia.
But there are many other zoonotic diseases. To name a few:
H7N7 Bird Flu, which is transmitted via direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry.
H1N1 started with the live export trade in pigs between the US and Mexico before jumping to humans. Earlier strains reportedly passed from animals to humans through contact with infected meat at slaughterhouses.
And the Spanish flu, that caused 50 million deaths worldwide, is also caused by the H1N1 virus, but with a bird (chicken) origin.
The fact is this: Capturing animals, raising animals, confining animals, treating animals without regard, respect or care and then slaughtering those animals for human use and consumption has resulted in multiple viruses that ultimately have killed millions of humans.
While the focus of COVID-19 has been the wildlife trade, which China has since banned and which merely moved it to illegal channels, the majority of animals historically involved in zoonotic diseases are domestic and primarily livestock.
Our planet can’t keep up with this growing desire for meat — the environmental cost is staggering. Agriculture is responsible for 10-12% of greenhouse gas emissions, with meat, poultry and dairy farming producing nearly three quarters of that. And, more than a quarter of the environmental effects of factory farming are directly attributable to pet food. All of which is to say, easing our reliance on animal agriculture has become an urgent public health and environmental issue.
Apologies for the depressing post at the end of a tough year. But this has all been to say there is hope! We, along with approximately 40 other companies around the world, are working very hard on a very positive change.
We are making cultured meat. Cultured meat is identical to traditional meat. It’s 100% meat! The only difference is our animal cells grow inside a fermenter (like beer!) instead of inside an animal.
What this means is safer, healthier meat for your pet without any of the negative impacts associated with traditional meat. No animals raised inhumanely for slaughter. No greenhouse gas emissions. No wasteful use of natural resources. And, no risk to pet and public health in terms of bacterial contamination. And, we are looking at you 2020, no zoonotic diseases.