The Extinction Chronicles

Scientists are tracing the path of Sars-CoV-2 from a wild animal host – but we need to look at the part played in the outbreak by industrial food production

A Chinese poultry farm. China stepped up surveillance after bird flu outbreaks.
 A Chinese poultry farm. China stepped up surveillance after bird flu outbreaks. Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images

Where did the virus causing the current pandemic come from? How did it get to a food market in Wuhan, China, from where it is thought to have spilled over into humans? The answers to these questions are gradually being pieced together, and the story they tell makes for uncomfortable reading.

Let’s start at the beginning. As of 17 March, we know that the Sars-CoV-2 virus (a member of the coronavirus family that causes the respiratory illness Covid-19) is the product of natural evolution. A study…

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