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Amendment promises strict scrutiny of animal trade

By WANG XIAODONG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-10 08:44

A man purchases meat products in a supermarket in Jilin city, Jilin province, on May 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Trading of live animals will come under stricter scrutiny in China to better prevent the transmission of diseases, according to a draft revision to the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law under deliberation by the top legislature.

All markets engaged in the trading of animals and animal products should meet conditions for epidemic prevention and comply with supervision and inspection by agricultural and rural affairs authorities, according to the draft, submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee for a second reading on Saturday.

Governments at the county level or above can also decide to ban the live trading of livestock and poultry in certain areas in their jurisdictions when necessary, the draft said.

Transport vehicles and containers for animals and animal products should also meet animal epidemic prevention standards, and infected animals and animal products, as well as the packages and containers used to carry them, should be disposed of according to regulations, the draft said.

Health authorities of governments at the county level or above should work with related departments, such as agricultural and wildlife protection authorities, to establish cooperation mechanisms on the prevention and control of zoonoses-diseases that pass from animals to humans, according to the draft.

The first draft revision of the law was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee in April. The existing Animal Epidemic Prevention Law was put into effect in 2008.

The revision comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to be associated with animals.

Markets where animals and animal products are traded are believed to be more vulnerable to transmission of viruses, including the novel coronavirus.

Key wholesale markets that sell goods such as seafood and frozen meat have to take measures to check for traces of the novel coronavirus once a week, including conducting tests, to minimize risks, the National Health Commission said in a notice released at the end of last month.

Since the release of the first draft amendment to the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law in April to solicit public opinion, the NPC Standing Committee has received feedback from more than 7,200 people, said Zang Tiewei, spokesman for its Legislative Affairs Commission.

Public opinions were taken into account in the formulation of the latest draft, including intensifying supervision of the trading of live poultry and livestock in wholesale markets to reduce the chances of animal diseases being spread, and improving efforts to prevent and control zoonoses, he said.

The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee will take into account the opinions of lawmakers and the public when advancing legislation on animal epidemic prevention, Zang said.

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