Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoState Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE in an Earth Day message on Wednesday urged China to discontinue its wet markets where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated.
“On this Earth Day, we also underscore the dangerous consequences of wildlife trafficking. Wildlife 'wet markets,' in which live species are sold for human consumption, are hotspots for wildlife trafficking, create risks for the generation and spread of diseases, and may have played a critical role in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pompeo said in the statement.
“On this Earth Day, we call on the People’s Republic of China and other countries to close wildlife wet markets permanently, a move that would reduce risks to human health inside and outside of China and discourage the consumption of trafficked wildlife and wildlife products. We call on all governments to join our efforts to combat and put an end to the scourge that is wildlife trafficking,” he added.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers made a similar call earlier in April in a letter led by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (R-S.C.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Who is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? MORE (D-Del.) to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai.
“It is well documented that wet markets in China have been the source of a number of worldwide health problems, and their operation should cease immediately so as to protect the Chinese people and the international community from additional health risks,” they wrote.
China announced a ban on wildlife markets in late February, but many of the markets have since resumed operations as China begins to unwind lockdown measures, Graham and Coons noted.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the United Nations's acting head of biodiversity, has called for an international ban on wet markets, telling The Guardian in early April that “it would be good to ban the live animal markets as China has done and some countries.”
“But we should also remember you have communities, particularly from low-income rural areas, particularly in Africa, which are dependent on wild animals to sustain the livelihoods of millions of people," she added.