This week, a Petition for Rulemaking was filed with United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD on behalf of medical group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)—a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members—to demand a ban on live animal markets nationwide. The petition, which is signed by 225 doctors, comes amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which is thought to have originated from a wet animal market in Wuhan, China. While China responded by closing that market and banning the sale and consumption of wild animals (the enforcement of which is being questioned), similar live animal markets are still operating in the US, including many in New York City—the epicenter of the US cases of COVID-19. “Live animal markets are a welcome mat to coronaviruses,” the doctors stated in their petition. “The failure to close a single live animal market in China led to a pandemic that has closed countless businesses worldwide and led to an enormous death toll and economic havoc.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, 75 percent of all new or emerging diseases in humans come from animals, which has been true for widespread viruses such as Swine Flu (pigs), H5N1 (poultry), and now COVID-19. PCRM pointed to one particular Philadelphia, PA live animal market, J&B Poultry Market, which the federal government sued after a 2015 inspection uncovered cages “encrusted with fecal matter” and “slaughtering equipment encrusted with bird feathers and bird waste.” That market now operates under the name Shun Li Live Poultry Market/S&L Poultry Market Inc.
“To prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases in the United States, the Surgeon General must promulgate regulations that prohibit the sale, transfer, donation, other commercial or public offering, or transportation, in interstate or intrastate commerce, of live birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians to retail facilities that hold live animals intended for human consumption,” PCRM’s petition demands. “There must not be another pandemic.”