Scientists are legitimately concerned about viruses like the coronavirus jumping from animals to humans. But how, and where, they conduct research on these viruses deserves scrutiny, according to Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., an expert in plant ecology, plant virology, genetics and genetic engineering.
In this interview with Pacifica Radio, Latham asks why scientists would want to take a bat coronavirus that has been manipulated to penetrate human cells and replicate the virus, essentially providing an “evolutionary opportunity for the virus to jump to humans”—and conduct that research in a lab with a "terrible" safety record?
Latham offers one of the best explanations we’ve heard for why COVID-19 probably originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and why the “gain-of-function” research that created the virus should never have been undertaken in the first place.
Latham also raises important questions about the role of agribusiness and palm oil production in pandemics.
Latham is co-founder and executive director of the Bioscience Resource Project, editor of Independent Science News and director of the Poison Papers project which publicizes documents of the chemical industry and its regulators.