Connect with us

My Weekly Preview

Australia urges global wet market scrutiny

China's wet markets have come under scrutiny

News

Australia urges global wet market scrutiny

China’s wet markets continue to come under scrutiny amid the global pandemic. WORDS: Matt Coughlan, AAP

Australia has called for international experts to scrutinise wild animal markets thought to be the source of the coronavirus in China.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on Wednesday attended a virtual meeting with his international counterparts from G20 countries.

He said wet markets – where coronavirus is likely to have been transmitted to humans – pose a risk to human and animal health.

“We must learn from COVID-19 on how we better manage and mitigate both human and animal biosecurity risks and to ignore wildlife wet markets in that assessment would be wrong,” he said on Thursday.

“There are risks with wildlife wet markets and they could be as big a risk to our agricultural industries as they can be to public health so we have to understand them better.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week scolded the World Health Organisation for supporting the reopening of China’s wet markets.

Mr Morrison said it was “unfathomable” to back live animal markets.

“I’m totally puzzled by this decision,” he said.

China has resisted Australia’s calls for an independent international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

The push for scrutiny of wild animal markets could further inflame tensions between the two nations.

“The G20 of Agriculture Ministers have a responsibility to lead the way and draw on global experts and engage international organisations to rationally and methodically look at the many significant risks of wildlife wet markets,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Our people should have confidence that the food they eat is safe. We owe it to our domestic population and our international markets.”

Agriculture ministers agreed emergency measures to stop the spread of the virus must not upend global food supply chains.

A senior World Bank official, Mari Pangestu, also warned at the meeting against import barriers and export restrictions, urging global cooperation to avert food crises.

The G20 ministers said they would guard against measures leading to excessive food price volatility in global markets and threats to food supply.

The ministers cautioned against food waste, saying it could exacerbate food insecurity and nutrition risks and economic loss.

Mr Littleproud also pushed for trade negotiations to be accelerated on technical barriers that cause supply chain issues and tariffs.

He said while there wasn’t a shortage of food globally, international supply chains are under pressure from trade barriers.

More in News

To Top