Diets, Diseases, and Discourse: Lessons from COVID-19 for Trade in Wildlife, Public Health, and Food Systems Reform

Forthcoming in Food Ethics (2020)

17 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020

See all articles by Angela Lee

Angela Lee

Ryerson University, Lincoln Alexander School of Law

Adam Houston

University of Ottawa

Date Written: July 24, 2020

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light significant failures and fragilities in our food, health, and market systems. Concomitantly, it has emphasized the urgent need for a critical re-evaluation of many of the policies and practices that have created the conditions in which viral pathogens can spread. However, there are many factors that are complicating this process; among others, the uncertain, rapidly evolving, and often poorly reported science surrounding the virus’ origins has contributed to a politically charged and often rancorous public debate, which is concerning insofar as the proliferation of divisive discourse may hinder efforts to address complex and collective concerns in a mutually cooperative manner.

In developing ethical and effective responses to the disproportionate risks associated with certain food production and consumption practices, we argue that the focus should be on mitigating such risks wherever they arise, instead of seeking to ascribe blame to specific countries or cultures. To this end, this article is an effort to inject some nuance into contemporary conversations about COVID-19 and its broader implications, particularly when it comes to trade in wildlife, public health, and food systems reform. If COVID-19 is to represent a turning point towards building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient world for both humans and nonhuman animals alike, the kind of fractioning that is currently being exacerbated by the use of loaded terms such as “wet market” must be eschewed in favour of a greater recognition of our fundamental interconnectedness.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Angela and Houston, Adam, Diets, Diseases, and Discourse: Lessons from COVID-19 for Trade in Wildlife, Public Health, and Food Systems Reform (July 24, 2020). Forthcoming in Food Ethics (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3659898

Angela Lee (Contact Author)

Ryerson University, Lincoln Alexander School of Law ( email )

350 Victoria St
Toronto, ON M5B 2K3
Canada

Adam Houston

University of Ottawa ( email )

Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Canada

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
23
Abstract Views
261
PlumX Metrics