Only a decade ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments threatened humans by harbouring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans like Ebola, HIV and dengue. Today, a number of researchers think it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases like COVID-19 to arise. These viruses have profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike and there is a growing awareness that the well-being of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems are closely interconnected.
In this session we look at how changes in farming practice – in particular growing monocultures at scale and an increasing reliance on corporate plant breeding at the expense of genetic diversity, have helped create the conditions for these new diseases to emerge. And we ask what can be done to protect us from future pandemics.
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