EcoHealth and Natracare: A Synthetic Alliance to Advance the One Health Agenda

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One evening, while looking at the EcoHealth Alliance website (I probably should get out more) I was rather gobsmacked to see that one of their ‘partners’ is a company called Natracare.

Natracare is a British company— set up as an alternative to the plasticky rubbish which dominated the market at the time— making organic, unbleached cotton tampons and sanitary towels, in reassuringly retro-style packaging, like something belonging to your Greenham Common protester aunt in the mid 1980s. EcoHealth Alliance, founded in 1971 as the Wildlife Preservation Trust International (later called the Wildlife Trust) by author and naturalist Gerald Durrell, is a US-based non-profit ‘dedicated to a One Health approach to protecting the health of people, animals and the environment from emerging infectious diseases’, which rebranded in 2010 to its new name and a wider remit.

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The ‘One Health’ term was coined in 2003 by Dr William Karesh, and in 2004, a symposium titled ‘One World—One Health: Building Interdisciplinary Bridges to Health in a Globalized World’, was hosted by the Rockefeller University and organised by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with links between WCS and Rockefeller University dating back to at least 1970. Dr Karesh, who worked for WCS at the time, co-authored The Manhattan Principles, the product of the symposium— twelve ‘recommendations’  to ‘world’s leaders, civil society, the global health community and institutions of science’.

As part of its ’Emerging Pandemic Threats’ programme, in 2009 the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched PREDICT— based on EcoHealth Alliance’s ‘innovative’ disease-outbreak hotspots map— to ‘strengthen global capacity for detection of viruses with pandemic potential’. Led by UC Davis One Health Institute, key members of PREDICT were WCS, EcoHealth Alliance, Metabiota and the Smithsonian. Shortly after PREDICT launched, EcoHealth Alliance hired Dr. William Karesh as Executive Vice President for Health and Policy. Due to close in late 2019, PREDICT was granted a six-month extension ‘to assist with COVID-19 response efforts’, and then Emerging Pandemic Threats was replaced with the STOP Spillover programme.

Why would a company like Natracare help fund Ecohealth Alliance?

More on EcoHealth Alliance

EcoHealth Alliance, from at least 2013 onwards, received funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and USAID to carry out research into bat viruses at Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Examples of EcoHealth-Alliance-connected research in China include ‘genetic experiments to combine naturally occurring bat coronaviruses with SARS and MERS viruses, resulting in hybridized […] coronavirus strains’ and conducting ‘biological experiments on pathogen spillover from bats to humans.’ The same year, EcoHealth Alliance president Dr. Peter Daszak warned: “Our research here uncovered a wide diversity of potentially pandemic viruses present, right now, in bats in China that could spill over into people […] Even worse, we don’t know how lethal these viruses would be if such an outbreak erupted.” The NIH halted funding to EcoHealth Alliance in April 2020 due to public controversy surrounding this research, with funding being reinstated in 2022 with several caveats: that EcoHealth Alliance conduct no further on-the-ground work in China, no field sampling of people or bats, and no recombinant virus culture or infection experiments.

The eugenics roots of the Wildlife Conservation Society

For the record, a founding member, chairman, and president of the aforementioned WCS— established in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society (NYZS)—  was Henry Fairfield Osborn, elder son of railway magnate William Osborn. Henry Fairfield Osborn was co-founder of the Galton Society and the American Eugenics Society, and uncle of Frederick Osborn (described as ‘the respectable face of eugenic research’ in the post-World-War-Ⅱera). The American Eugenics Society influenced US Supreme Court policy in cases such as Buck v Bell (1927) in Virginia, which upheld the ‘constitutionality’ of state-enforced sterilisation, leading to a significant increase in compulsory sterilisations across the United States. Otto Hoffmann, head of the SS ‘Race and Settlement Main Office’, was among the Nazi war-criminals at the Nuremberg Trials to cite Buck v Bell, along with other examples of compulsory sterilisation laws, as part of their defence—presumably to make the point that Germany was neither the first nor the only country to practise eugenics. Another NYZS founder was Madison Grant, author of The Passing of the Great Race (to which Henry Fairfield Osborn wrote the introduction)— a book which Adolf Hitler described, in a letter to Grant, as his ‘Bible’. Excerpts from The Passing of the Great Race were used at the Nuremberg Trials by the defence team of Karl Brandt, the Nazi doctor who performed forced abortions under Germany’s 1933 ‘Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases’ and later led the so-called ‘Aktion T-4’ mass-murder campaign of ‘genetically unfit’ people in hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric institutions, and ‘children’s clinics’ in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe.    

The One Health agenda progresses                                                                  

In March 2015, at a conference in Washington DC hosted by the Institute of Medicine, entitled ‘Rapid Medical Countermeasure Response to Infectious Diseases’, attended by various ‘public and private sector stakeholders’, Dr Peter Daszak said: “until an infectious disease crisis is very real, present, and at an emergency threshold, it is often largely ignored. To sustain the funding base beyond the crisis…we need to increase public understanding of the need for MCMs [medical countermeasures] such as a pan-influenza or pan-coronavirus vaccine. A key driver is the media, and the economics follow[s] the hype. We need to use that hype to our advantage to get to the real issues. Investors will respond if they see profit at the end of [the] process.” At this conference, the ‘One Health’ concept was introduced to a wider audience.

After its initial inception in 2010, the terrifyingly-named One Health Quadripartite— made up of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)— was convened in March 2022 to ‘advance One Health principles’. The One Health concept is increasingly being applied to everything from food security to vaccine development to mental health to ‘climate change’…heck, there’s even a One Health Poultry Hub now!

Meanwhile, the One Health European Joint Programme seeks to ‘harmonise approaches to infectious diseases across Europe and globally’ and has several interesting ‘partners’, such as the Pirbright Institute and the Quadram Institute, both largely funded by UK taxpayers. Opened in 1914 to test cattle for tuberculosis, the Pirbright Institute has been heavily involved in Foot-and-Mouth Disease research from 1924 to the time of writing, while in 1969 midge colonies were established at the Institute for experiments with insect-transmitted viruses. Already containing an ‘award winning’ vaccinology centre, lower-category laboratories, and hundreds of doomed animals—cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chicks, guinea pigs, rabbits— the Pirbright Institute unveiled the BBSRC (that’s the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to you) National Virology Centre in 2014. There are four levels of bio-containment labs (level 4 being the highest) and, like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the National Virology Centre is a category 4 containment facility (complete with rainbow-coloured windows) for experiments with virulent, high-risk animal pathogens.

The Quadram Institute, an NHS-connected research centre ‘creating new interfaces between food science, gut biology, human health and disease’ (part funded by Bill and Melinda, Wellcome, and others) and member of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium which informed SAGE during the ‘pandemic’, recently received awards totalling £26 million from the BBSRC/UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). These grants are a portion of £100 million being ‘invested’ to create six ‘engineering biology mission hubs’ to implement the government’s ‘national vision for engineering biology’ to ‘transform solutions in areas like vaccine, textile and food production.’  Engineering biology projects, under the themes of ‘environmental solutions, food systems, biomedicine, and clean growth’ include ‘synthetically engineered microalgae for improved gut function and human health’, ‘engineering insects for novel food or feed and waste management’, and ‘engineered genetic control systems for advanced therapeutics’. Aren’t you glad that has created such a dynamic portfolio of investments on your behalf? The Quadram Institute is part of the new ‘GlycoCell Hub’ at the University of Nottingham, whose ‘mission’ is to use the bacterium Bacillus subtilis to establish a biomanufacturing platform for the production of new drugs and vaccines, and then ‘accelerate [their] translation into commercially successful products.’ Key to the GlycoCell Hub mission is ‘GlycoForge’, a ‘specialist automated facility’ and ‘central to UK epidemic preparedness’ which will ‘routinely develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics […]ready to deliver a 100-day rapid response to new pandemic threats.’

One World, One Health— because ‘nobody is safe until we’re all safe’

In February 2020, Dr Peter Daszak co-authored a statement published in the Lancet, ‘in solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China’ to ‘promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture’ and to ‘strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that covid-19 does not have a natural origin.’ Dr Daszak was a member both of the WHO investigation and a Lancet investigation— funded by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network— into the source of the covid-19 ‘pandemic’ before, in June 2021, ‘recusing himself’ from the Lancet investigation for failing to declare his ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The planned second phase of the WHO investigation was later quietly discontinued. Meanwhile, Dr William Karesh notes that covid-19 was ‘proof of concept’ of the One Health approach.

In view of all of the above, I ask again: why the hell would Natracare partner with EcoHealth Alliance? It seems utterly bizarre, like a surreal joke… but then, this new normal lark is dead weird. All these strange spillovers and crossovers and interfaces and chimeras. All these things that aren’t quite what we once thought they were. I mean, fairtrade unbleached organic cotton good; shadowy deep-State-funded NGOs making hybrid viruses in Chinese labs bad, right? Microbiome research and ’gut health’ good, right? Amnesty International good, right? Saving planet Earth good, right? Sesame Street good, right?!

I emailed Natracare—twice actually—to ask essentially this question: what was the rationale behind their partnership with EcoHealth Alliance? I heard crickets. Meanwhile, the folks at EcoHealth Alliance are still very fond of bats…and speaking of bats, Natracare publish a ‘period zine’, which I found as I looked through their website for their email address. Here’s the link to their first ever zine, ‘The Gender Issue’, so you can see for yourself. I add no further comment in closing this piece because, quite honestly, as I flipped through the digital pages of the zine, words failed me— and it’s not often you’ll hear me say that.

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