Cornyn, Booker Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Prevent Future Pandemics

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and I along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Carper (D-DE) today reintroduced our Preventing Future Pandemics Act, a bipartisan bill that would direct the State Department to work with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and stop the associated wildlife trade, end the import, export and sale of live wildlife for human consumption in the United States, as well as phase out demand for wildlife as a food source.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost us over 400,000 American lives and nearly a year away from our friends and loved ones, and it is essential that the circumstances that allow deadly viruses like this to spread never happen again. This legislation will encourage cooperation among the international community to put a stop to the unsanitary conditions that permit these viruses to be introduced in the first place.

“From SARS to Ebola to COVID-19, the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to people is a persistent threat to global public health, and we know that commercial wildlife markets and the international wildlife trade significantly increase that risk,” said Sen. Booker. “In order to prevent another deadly pandemic, we must work with our international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and end the international trade in live wildlife.”

The Preventing Future Pandemics Act:

  • Directs the Secretary of HHS to enlist the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study to evaluate the impact of physical proximity and consumption of wildlife (as food or medicine) on the emergence and transmission of viral and other microbial pathogens.  The study would also evaluate the conditions at live wildlife markets that lead to transmission of zoonotic diseases.
  • Galvanizes the international community to address the health dangers posed by live wildlife markets and associated wildlife trafficking by issuing a Sense of Congress regarding the role of international organizations in addressing emerging disease threats.  It also sets U.S. policy to facilitate international cooperation to disrupt and ultimately end the commercial wildlife trade associated with live wildlife markets; builds international coalitions to support policy goals; authorizes sanctions on entities that license or engage in live wildlife markets and associated wildlife trafficking; and authorizes $300 million for USAID to carry out international programs in this regard annually until 2030.  
  • Prohibits the import, export, and sale of certain live wild animals for human consumption (i.e., food or medicine), except where consumption is incidental to lawful hunting activity.  The provision applies to live mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, but excludes ruminants.

The Preventing Future Pandemics Act is supported by the Infectious Disease Society of America, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, Global Financial Integrity, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, the Endangered Species Coalition, Animal Defenders International, the Western Watersheds Project, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, WildEarth Guardians, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Save Wolves Now Network, the Oceanic Preservation Society, Born Free USA, Animal Wellness Action, the Animal Wellness Foundation, the Center for a Humane Economy, Defenders of Wildlife, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Investigation Agency, WildAid, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, the Texas State Aquarium, the Houston Zoo, the Texas Foundation for Conservation, PawPAC, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the National Whistleblower Center.

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