Analysis: Biodiversity Depletion Favors Emergence of New Pandemics

A study of thousands of species shows that the transformation of wild land into farming benefits a few animals that harbor many pathogens with the potential to infect humans.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - In 1965, the year the current World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom was born, the world's population was 3.32 billion. Of this total, over 35 percent were starving. During Adhanom's lifetime, the planet reached 7.8 billion people, multiplying by more than twice its population, while the proportion of the starving dropped to less than 15 percent.

This achievement had its costs. The transformation of millions of acres of wilderness into farmland also made it more likely that new diseases would spread to humans. A Brown University study estimated that between 1980 . . .

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