Showing results for: Communicable diseases
Local authorities in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 virus is thought to have originally started spreading to humans, have announced a ban on eating wild animals along with a ban on hunting wild animals except for scientific research or population regulation. The city will also buy out wild animal breeders.
According to this article in the Guardian, slaughterhouses in several countries are being badly affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, with the US being particularly affected. The factors behind the outbreaks are thought to include crowded working conditions, a workforce who often live in shared houses, people working despite being ill because of economic insecurity, and the slaughterhouses not being shut down during the pandemic.
This paper combines data on zoonotic viruses in mammals with trends in species abundance. It finds that wild land mammal species with larger populations generally harbour a greater number of zoonotic viruses. Furthermore, among mammal species that are threatened, those that are threatened because of exploitation (e.g. hunting or wildlife trade) or loss of habitat host approximately twice as many viruses as mammals that are threatened for other reasons.
This blog post from University of Oslo’s Centre for Development and the Environment argues that the spread of zoonotic diseases cannot be halted simply by closing wet markets (often portrayed in the Western media as the source of viruses). Rather, it argues, deeper changes in the food system are required, since zoonotic diseases have also been linked to deforestation and industrial meat production.
This blog post from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition sets out the impacts that COVID-19 is likely to have on the food system in both low- and high-income contexts, including impacts on health, livelihoods and the cost of food transport. It also suggests how the food system can be strengthened to mitigate these challenges. See this table (PDF link) for a summary.
This blog post from the UK’s Food Ethics Council explores some of the ethical complexities in the food system’s response to COVID-19. It notes that many people are displaying compassion and supporting neighbours during the pandemic. It also argues that other ongoing crises, including climate, nature loss, health and the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal negotiations, must not be neglected.
This report by the World Health Organisation calls for urgent action on the global and growing antimicrobial resistance crisis. It reports that “[a]larming levels of resistance have been reported in countries of all income levels, with the result that common diseases are becoming untreatable, and lifesaving medical procedures riskier to perform.”
This interactive tool from the European Food Safety Authority presents data on resistance to several types of antimicrobials among humans, pigs and cattle.
This paper describes the susceptibility of organisms such as bacteria to biocides such as antibiotics, insecticides and herbicide as a beneficial ecosystem service, since susceptible organisms can prevent the spread of biocide resistance by outcompeting resistant organisms (that is, in biocide-free environments). This framing is distinct from many other viewpoints, which focus on the negative costs of biocide resistance.
A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease”, has been confirmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire. The case was discovered before entering the human food chain, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect consumers.
The book “Food Safety Economics - Incentives for a Safer Food Supply”, edited by Tanya Roberts, explores how regulations have affected the economic incentives influencing food safety.
A common hypothesis used to link declining human health to environmental outcomes predicts that illness will reduce human populations or harvest effort, thus benefitting the environment. When investigating the behaviour of fishers around Lake Victoria in Kenya, this research found little evidence that illness reduced fishing effort to indirectly benefit the environment. Instead, ill fishers shifted their fishing methods – using more illegal methods concentrated in inshore areas, that are less physically demanding but environmentally destructive.
This report provides an update on the fields of synthetic biology and the latest breeding techniques involving molecular biology. It sees modern techniques of creating new cultivars as a continuation of selective breeding which was started by humans around 10,000 years ago.
The OneHealth project, launched in 2015, explores the relationship between infectious diseases, biodiversity and ecosystems, the economics of disease and disease drivers, and the impacts of climate change and demography on health.
In this blog David McCoy, director of Medact, argues that UK farmers and government should work hard to reduce on-farm antibiotic use. With evidence building that antimicrobial resistance in farm animals can be transferred across to humans, the issue is becoming increasingly urgent.