By supporting conservation in other nations, a bipartisan group of senators has proposed – through the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2022 (S.4074) – that the risk of zoonotic disease transmission could be reduced for humans.
As introduced, the bill would authorize the U.S. government to collaborate with other countries voluntarily to develop Global Health Security Zoonoses Plans. Such plans would act as outlines for tackling new zoonotic pathogens with pandemic potential, clamping down on them before spillover into human transmission could occur.
“This legislation takes a balanced approach that will allow the U.S. to provide technical assistance and support to countries to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission through the wildlife trade and within live wildlife markets,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus and one of the bill’s authors, said. “Conservation is found at the core of a healthy planet, and this legislation strengthens the tools the United States has to promote conservation and public health around the world.”
Collaboration between the private sector and government and the strengthening of conservation practices would be at the core of the legislation’s efforts. In addition to dealing with zoonotic issues, the resulting plans would identify incentives and improve policies for biosecurity and hygienic standards in the wildlife trade and guarantee technical support for those involved in and affected by these decisions.
“There is a clear connection between the health of humans, animals and the habitats they live in, so we should be investing now in protecting habitats and ending the trade of live wildlife to reduce unnatural contact between humans and wildlife where dangerous diseases can be transmitted,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus and another author of the bill, said. “Doing so will set the United States up as a leader for preventing future pandemics around the world, and that’s why we need to pass this bipartisan legislation.”
Colleagues who joined Coons and Portman on the bill included U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Tom Carper (D-DE). External support has been voiced by Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Humane Society Legislative Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and World Wildlife Fund.