Saturday, May 21, at 8 pm, the Moulin du Roc in Niort will screen in your presence the new film by Marie-Monique Robin, The pandemic factory. In this film, in line with her earlier committed reporting, the investigative journalist, originally from Gourgé, demonstrates the links between attacks on biodiversity and pandemics.
Before being a movie, “The Pandemic Factory” is a book published in 2018. What differences?
Marie-Monique Robin: “For the book, I interviewed 62 scientists from five continents who show the links between the destruction of biodiversity and the emergence of infectious diseases. For the film, Juliette Binoche and I traveled to eight countries where we met fourteen scientists who explained this mechanism to us. Juliette’s role is very interesting: as she doesn’t know anything about it, these researchers are forced to explain things in a very simple way. It works! »
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What is this mechanic they describe?
“They observed a hitherto unknown phenomenon called the ‘dilution effect’, which I hope will soon appear in school textbooks (1): in a forest untouched by man, primary forests, for example, there is a natural balance in which pathogens operate. silently, without posing the slightest danger to human beings. On the other hand, with the fragmentation of forests, we break this balance and increase the risk of infection…”
“For example, two American researchers I interviewed in New York demonstrated this by working on Lyme disease. We know that the reservoir of the bacteria that causes this disease is a small rodent called the white-footed mouse (in Europe, it is the rat). When a forest is fragmented, its predators like foxes or lynxes disappear. Therefore, the probability of infection increases as the number of white-footed mice increases. »
Is it a similar mechanism that triggered the Covid-19 pandemic?
“For now, we don’t know exactly what happened… But we know that it is this same mechanism that allowed the emergence of the deadly Nipah virus in the late 1990s in Malaysia. The mechanism was the following: the island of Borneo is deforested to plant oil palm trees, the bats flee because their habitat is destroyed, they get stressed, they excrete the viruses they carry, they contaminate the fruits that the primates will eat, then the humans will eat the monkeys… Or else they will settle on the coasts of Malaysia , in the mango trees planted above the pig farms, they eat and infect the mangoes, the mangoes fall off, the pigs eat mangoes, the pigs are sent to Singapore and that is how, thanks to globalization, viruses spread. »
Why do we deforest?
“Make soy monocultures that will feed intensive agriculture in Brittany or oil palm fields as in Borneo, create roads, operate mines, do intensive agriculture as in the Amazon, for wood… And I remember that this deforestation is also one of the causes of the climate changes. “
Are there solutions?
“I talk about it in the book and in the movie. The great international mantra today is “a health”, a health. The idea is that we have to stop decoupling the health of ecosystems from the health of wild and domestic animals and humans, because everything is interconnected. We need holistic measures, that is, global. These solutions, as we know them, are the same for the climate. For example, a very strong recommendation is to eat less meat. Today, I only eat organic and local meat whose origin I know. »
“The Pandemic Factory”, by Marie-Monique Robin with Juliette Binoche, on display Saturday, May 21, at 8:00 pm, at the Moulin du Roc in Niort, in the presence of the journalist. Prices: 5€, 4€ for children under 14 years old. This evening is organized in collaboration with Marche pour le climat.
(1) In partnership with National Education and the French Office for Biodiversity, Marie-Monique Robin is working on putting online a series of thirty videos on this topic, aimed at school-age children.