Analysis: Palm Oil Plantations Are a ‘Threat to Global Health,’ Says Study on Outbreaks
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised plenty of questions about whether the planet’s declining health is what ails humans. The answer is yes, and it’s not a metaphorical response.
Distorting the blue planet’s green cover, hollowing out dense forests and tacking tree plantations at will fuels the rise of diseases, a growing body of research shows. From Ebola in Africa to malaria outbreaks in Brazil to tick-borne illnesses in the U.S., there is a common thread: fluctuating forest cover, a recent study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has found.
The study authors spotlight an overlooked hazard: oil palm plantations, which they call a “threat to global health.”
COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, one where the pathogen emerges in animals and spills over into humans. How the SARS-CoV-2 virus made this jump is still under investigation, but one theory posits that a bat coronavirus entered human populations via an intermediary host. This scenario has raised concerns about the health risks related to wildlife trade and human incursions into natural habitats.
Photo courtesy of Ryk Porras.