Swedish Expert Discussion On Bat Soup And Coronavirus
Yesterday, Swedish television presented a very informative and educative discuss on the connection between the bat (chimgadar) meat and Coronavirus. As always Swedes speak only on a subject where they have established recognition as experts.
The three experts being interviewed were:
- A Sweden’s world-renowned expert on Viruses who has studied the origins and spread of viruses and published extensively on the subject.
- Sweden’s leading authority on the food cultures of the world.
- A Swedish journalist who had lived for years in China, and had a network of Chinese friends having specialty on the Chinese food culture.
The experts on viruses made the following observations:
- Since 1956, China has been the origin of different forms of influenza epidemics; some of which had attained international pandemic characteristics.
- The reason (behind epidemic origins) was that the Chinese wet markets have on display the living animals as well as the slaughtered ones of a variety unknown anywhere else in the world. These include – besides the usual beef, mutton and pork – the meat of dogs, snakes, turtles, rabbits, a variety of birds and fish i.e. anything under the sun except what is known to be poisonous. Now, the point underlined was that eating the meat of these birds and animals as such was not the problem, conditional to the fact that it was properly cooked.
- Therefore, the bat soup was not the problem as such; the problem was that the bats passed on the virus to other animals and through mutation it was swept into human beings. Therefore, mixing of animals and birds in wet and crowded places was the real problem. The problem instead was that the Chinese bring living birds and animals to the market and freely mix one type with another.
- Bats, which have been responsible for several viruses carry the virus in their lungs but do not themselves get sick but pass it on to other animals from which they can transmit to human beings. The lungs of human beings do not have the immunity the bats have; hence the origins of several types of corona viruses of which the latest D-19 has proved to be the dangerous and spreads quickly.
- He underscored that the ordinary influenzas which break out in Europe or elsewhere in the world are also because of the very unhygienic conditions which the birds and animals are kept. Therefore we cannot blame only the Chinese for having unhygienic stuffing of animals and birds in one place.
- One can say that the animal and food markets in Pakistan are also a ready ground for many viruses and diseases and cause epidemics from time to time. The same is true of other Muslim countries. The scenes in Pakistan after the Eid-ul-Adha in the streets and mohallas are appalling and surely cause many ailments
Expert Opinion on Food Culture
The Swedish expert on the cuisine or food cultures of the world gave evidence of perilous conditions in the wet markets of China and other Southeast Asian countries. Also, putting animals’ parts into cooking oil and cutting open their brains is a common practice, not to mention the grotesque sight of those creatures writhing in pain.
However, he argued that Chinese food otherwise was delicious once it was cooked properly. He narrated his experience of having eaten dog meat, snakes and other ‘odd’ creatures.
The ‘China-Based Expert’ opinion
The Swedish journalist took a rather defensive position saying that she had not seen such wet markets in Beijing, which the food expert contested saying that even in Beijing such markets were visible in localities where the poor lived.
She informed further that the Chinese government was very concerned with the ‘China image’: it did not want to give signals to the world that China was a ruthless and cruel society. The Communist Party will now take all measures to do away with the mixing of animals, birds and humans in wet markets so that in the future, the danger of such an epidemic decreases.
All three interviewees agreed that because of the indiscriminate killing and eating of animals and birds, the Chinese wildlife and ecosystems had been badly undermined. This presented a great danger to China, they noted.
I am a ‘vegetarian now’!
My own opinion is that Judaism and Islam prohibited the meat of pigs because the pigs ate everything and their meat rotted far more quickly than of cows and sheep and goats etc. Therefore, many diseases are caused by eating pork.
However, the pig meat or pork was not prohibited by Christians and now the pigs are kept under controlled environment and therefore, the diseases they carry are eliminated.
To be honest, after listening to expert discussions on the matter, I could reiterate to myself that the vegetarian food is far safer and I identify myself to be a vegetarian now. However, doctors say that one should not abstain completely from meat because it is the source of important proteins which the body needs.
To conclude, it is worthwhile to mention that the humankind is the worst predator who kills and consumes other creatures mercilessly because it is tempting to their pleasures.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]