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Biodiversity or Bust

Diseases transmitted from animals have decimated human populations at least since the bubonic plague appeared in Biblical times. Centuries later, preserving healthy ecosystems is the most effective – and the most cost-effective – way to prevent future outbreaks that endanger our lives and threaten our livelihoods.

TORONTO – The blame game has begun. The number of COVID-19 victims is still unknown, but there is a stream of hate and misinformation pervading timelines. The damage of disinformation and the virus itself to families and communities is equal to our failure to ensure that science, not rhetoric, shapes policy.

Studies show that it is more common for viruses to be transmitted from animals to humans. Some erroneously say this is due to innocuous human errors. But there is proof that the preservation and diversity of biotopes, or habitats, lessen human-animal contact and the likelihood of new pathogens appearing in humans. Our failure to rely on science is a major factor underlying our current coronavirus crisis.

Illnesses transmitted from animals are more prevalent than ever. A 2017 peer-reviewed study found that 75% of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans, such as West Nile virus, Ebola, SARS, and Lyme disease, are zoonoses, or illnesses caused by pathogens that have jumped from animals.

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