Animal Law Reform South Africa’s
Food Systems White Paper
16 October 2022 was “World Food Day” – the theme for this year was “Leave no one behind”. However, our current food system leaves many behind – millions of people who suffer from severe food insecurity as well as the billions of animals used and killed for food.
In 2o22, in recognition of this day, ALRSA released its first White Paper, entitled: “Sowing the Seeds of Change – Towards a More Just and Inclusive Food System in South Africa”. This White Paper is the culmination of the Project which began in March 2022 and which explores the barriers to transforming South Africa’s food system. Specifically, it focuses on law and policy to initiate change.
The White Paper calls on the South African Government to develop a robust regulatory ecosystem which moves away from intensive and industrial animal agriculture and production towards alternatives to such systems which include plant-based alternatives and cellular-based alternatives.
It does this to ensure greater protection for nonhuman animals as well as for humans and the environment.
Through a detailed analysis, we recommend the South African Government initiate 15 main Recommended Interventions which range from regulatory to research to education.
We call for a food system built on seven key Pillars:
Pillar 1: The Food System Must Protect Human Rights and Advance Social Justice
Pillar 2: The Food System Must Protect the Environment
Pillar 3: The Food System Must Protect Animal Interests
Pillar 4: The Food System Must Promote Nutrition, Human and Animal Health and Food Safety
Pillar 5:There Must Be Accountability and Transparency
Pillar 6: The Food System must be Financially and Internationally Responsible
Pillar 7: The Food System Must Be Properly and Fairly Governed and Regulated*
We call for swift and immediate action as well as transparency and accountability on government and industry – in order to ensure that – on this World Food Day, NO ONE is truly left behind.
Meat Safety Act Exemption Submission
On 23 November 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft Exemption from section 11(1)(i) of the Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act No.40 of 2000) for the slaughter of game animals published on 23 September 2022.
In our Submission, we reject the proposed amendment to / exemption from the Meat Safety Act in its entirety. The Exemption is not only dangerous, unreasonable, irrational and irresponsible, but it is a threat to public health and safety and infringes on guaranteed constitutional rights. It also has major implications for public health and safety, the health and safety of workers, environmental health as well as animal health and welfare. We note that proceeding with this amendment would have potentially disastrous consequences which would be felt far outside of our borders.
In addition to these valid and overarching concerns, we note that the Exemption represents a massive regressive step with regard to food security, environmental protection, animal welfare, sentience and intrinsic value of the wild animals. Furthermore, the Exemption is providing an opportunity for major health and safety risks for abattoir workers and consumers at large.
Revised Draft White Paper Submission
On 11 November 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on the Revised Draft White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity published on 28 October 2022.
In our Submission, we strongly support and applaud the progressive elements of the Revised Draft White Paper which represent positive steps forward to protect Nature, animals and human rights, specifically the right to environment as contained in section 24 of the Constitution.
We note however, that while there are certain aspects of the Revised Draft White Paper which are important and welcomed, it is a serious regression from the Original Draft White Paper published in July 2022. In many respects, it appears to be an extremely watered-down version of many potential progressive inclusions and without the explicit incorporation of such inclusions, it cannot hope to achieve the impact statement of “Thriving People and Nature”.
Many inclusions reflect the problematic “old regime approach” to the environment and animals, which includes promoting economic interests in the name of “development” and “use” and treating Nature and animals as mere resources, property and commodities. This fails to recognise both societal and legal developments which recognise their intrinsic value as individual entities. Such approach can neither be considered to be sustainable nor considered as conservation. The wording of section 24 explicitly requires that any use and development be “ecologically sustainable”, and furthermore, such right needs to be read in light of the remainder of the wording right and with reference to recent developments.
These and other factors which we have elaborated on in our Submission as well as our Original Submission, are not properly reflected in the Revised Draft White Paper. As such, the reflection of this “old regime” and regressive steps are inconsistent with the government’s obligations in terms of section 24. Most notably, these include removal of “intrinsic value” as a guiding principle as well as provisions relating to animal sentience, wellbeing and welfare.
Draft White Paper Submission
On 26 September 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft White Paper on the Conservation and Ecologically Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity published on 8 July 2022.
In our Submission, we welcome the development of the Draft White Paper in response to fill an existing policy gap due to the lack of an approved, over-arching policy on biodiversity. We further welcome and applaud the sentiments expressed by the DFFE that “we need to do things differently”, that there needs to be a “New Deal” for people and Nature (including animals) and that people as well as Nature (including animals) should thrive.
In this light, we welcome the inclusion of concepts such as Ubuntu, animal sentience, and the One Health and One Welfare approach.
Furthermore, we support the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge Systems as being foundational to a thriving biodiversity economy, provided that their intellectual property and the integrity of their knowledge systems is appropriately implemented respecting and promoting animals and their welfare concerns.
For too long, there has been a reliance on an exploitative and extractive model based on colonial ideologies which has benefited very few at the expense of many and which has compromised and infringed on the guaranteed constitutional rights of South Africans, under the guise of conservation and while promoting a limited understanding of property rights at the expense of others. As acknowledged, this problematic model needs to come to an end to ensure the protection of our shared heritage and to secure the rights of present and future generations.
As is noted, the lack of a uniform standard for conservation and sustainable use as well as misinterpretation, abuse and misuse of these terms has led to dire consequences, and we are happy that our calls for a transformative approach have been heard.
We then propose that the transformative and paradigm shifting sentiments be consistently captured throughout the entirety of the document.
Draft Game Meat Strategy Submission
On 26 September 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft Game Meat Strategy published for public comment on 18 July 2022.
In our Submission, we call on the Department of Forestries, Fisheries and the Environment to withdraw the document in its entirety. In our view the document is fundamentally flawed and cannot be cured through amendments, regardless of how comprehensive such amendments are, due to the basis of the document also being problematic and not aligned with the Draft White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in South Africa (among other reasons). If the Department refuses to withdraw the document, despite its flawed nature, we provided a few non exhaustive comments on the Draft Game Meat Strategy for consideration.
Working Paper: Barriers to the Transformation of South Africa’s Food System:
Can the Law be a Lever for Change?
18 July is Mandela Day in South Africa, the birthday of former president Nelson Rolihlala Mandela.
The theme for this year is “An intersection between food security and climate change.”
In recognition of this, Animal Law Reform South Africa is excited to release its Working Paper for its Project entitled: “Barriers to the Transformation of South Africa’s Food System: Can the Law be a Lever for Change?”
The purpose of this Project and its various components is to conduct a diagnostic analysis of barriers to the transformation of South Africa’s food system to inform advocacy for the reform of the regulatory regime to promote farmed animal welfare, human rights, health, and environmental protection and to provide for a phased shift away from dependence on intensive animal agriculture and animal-based protein and move towards alternative systems and proteins including those which are plant, fungi, and cell-based.
More specifically, this Project intends to draw attention to the regulatory gaps that exist in these areas and identify opportunities to grant greater protection to animals, humans and the planet.
There is a vast gap in knowledge, information, research and transparency around farmed animal agriculture in South Africa. This transcends many issues including the numbers of animals implicated; methods of production; animal welfare and treatment; environmental practices; use of antibiotics; food safety; human health; social justice; worker safety and wellbeing; economic impacts and the true cost of such products; among many others. Accordingly, this Working Paper hopes to go some way at bringing to the surface information which can be used by those working in this sector to advocate for better regulation and practices that are more ethical, sustainable and in pursuit of social and inclusive justice.
It aims to highlight gaps, potential items for further research, debate and discussion and identify matters to be explored further for purposes of the White Paper.
Court Approached to Release Three Elephants from the Johannesburg Zoo
On 20 June 2022, an application was lodged in the High Court of South Africa in the Gauteng Division, Pretoria, to release three Elephants−known as Lammie, Mopane and Ramadiba− from the Johannesburg Zoo into a rewilding facility. These Elephants are currently being held in conditions unsuited to their basic needs.
The application is brought by Animal Law Reform South Africa (ALRSA), the EMS Foundation and Chief Stephen Fritz, represented by environmental law firm, Cullinan and Associates, who have brought this application against the Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), and other governmental respondents involved with the Zoo.
In a ground-breaking case, which is also a South African first, legal remedy is being sought to have these Elephants released to live out the remainder of their lives in a natural environment and where the conditions are commensurate with the innate needs and nature of Elephants.
Leading global Elephant experts have attested to the fact that Lammie, Mopane and Ramadiba are highly intelligent, socially complex and sentient beings who are living in conditions that are adverse to their well-being, and are as a result in a state of distress. The conditions offered by the Johannesburg Zoo do not meet their fundamental physical, mental and emotional needs.
Lammie, Mopane and Ramadiba, the named Elephants living at the Johannesburg Zoo, South Africa
Image Credit: ©The EMS Foundation, November 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Click here to read the Court Papers:
Recent Sign Ons
In a Joint Position Paper, 137 conservation and animal protection organisations from all around the world, including 45 NGOs from African countries, speak out against trophy hunting and urge policy-makers to ban imports. Animal Law Reform South Africa is proud to be one of the signatories of the Paper.
On 30 June 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa joined dozens of local and international organisations in a Letter Response to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s Communique to the Stakeholders of meat analogue products dated 22 June 2022 (the
“Communique”). In the Letter, the organisations respectfully request that the Department withdraw the Communique and commence
with discussions regarding the proposed new regulations for meat analogues with the
relevant stakeholders and other interested parties.
Draft Climate Change Bill Submission
On 27 May 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft Climate Change Bill published for public comment on 20 April 2022.
In our Submission, we raise issues around Constitutional Considerations; the Anthropocentric Framing of the Bill; the Failure to include other members of Earth, including Nonhuman Animals, their intrinsic value and welfare in the Bill; the Need to Include Key Sectors and Activities (such as animal agriculture and aquaculture and wild-caught fishing); Failure to Recognise the Climate Emergency / Crisis; the Need to Protect Climate Change Tools (such as carbon sinks); the Failure to Recognise Impacts on Vulnerable Groups; Lack of Transparency, Accountability and Action; Insufficient Targets and Obligations; Inadequate Enforcement and Compliance Mechanisms; Lack of Obligations, Duties, Powers, Responsibilities and Assistance on State/ Government; Public and Civil Society Consultation and Engagement on the Bill and All Aspects Thereof including the Presidential Climate Commission; Application of the Bill; Best-Practices and Provisions and Progressive Inclusions from Other Countries; and various other specific comments in relation to the Bill.
We also endorsed the Submissions made by (i) the EMS Foundation and the Wild Law Institute and (ii) the Centre for Environmental Rights respectively on the Climate Change Bill submitted on 27th May 2022. This included their direct comments made on the Draft Bill as well as the Covering Submission to the extent that these were not in conflict with our Submission and could be read collaboratively.
Draft National Biodiversity Offset Guideline Submission
On 26 May 2022, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft National Biodiversity Offset Guideline, published for public comment on 25 March 2022.
In our Submission, we request that DFFE recognise the sentience and intrinsic value of individual animals and include the welfare of animals and Animals Protection Act; we propose the inclusion of Offshore Marine and Estuary Ecosystems; we propose that the Guidelines be in the form of legally binding Regulations instead of Guidelines; and make other proposals in the interests of transparency, accountability, consultation and fairness.
Foundations in Animal Law Course at the University of Johannesburg
From May – August 2022, two of Animal Law Reform South Africa’s co-founders and board members (Amy P. Wilson and Professor David Bilchitz) initiated, designed, developed and taught the first Animal Law course at a South African University. The course was a Short Learning Programme offered by the University of Johannesburg, Faculty of Law and entitled: “Foundations in Animal Law”. The programme had students across disciplines and interest areas including lawyers, veterinarians, NGO leaders and employees, governmental representatives, industry representatives and others.
This was the first foundational Animal Law course offered in South Africa and one of the first on the African continent. We are extremely proud to have kick-started the be pioneering the Animal Law education movement and looking forward to see it grow even further over the coming years.
LIVE KINDER REPORT with FOUR PAWS South Africa
FOUR PAWS South Africa released their “#LiveKinder for Farm Animals in South Africa” report. Animal Law Reform South Africa was proud to work with the FOUR PAWS team to provide research and technical expertise into this report. We believe this will be a critical tool to help educate the South African public about farm animals and the state of factory farming in the country, as well as provide a path forward for future action.
“Unfortunately, most people are not only unaware of the extent of harm of industrialised animal agriculture, but also the extent to which they, as individuals, can contribute to change through their daily choices. Worse still, businesses and large corporation exploit our ignorance on an even larger scale, to the detriment of ourselves and our planet. However, as informed consumers and members of the public, we can be conscious of our impact, be empowered to choose to live kinder, and we can encourage others to do the same. At this turning point in our human history, we can decide to simply adopt systems that have caused great harm to animals, humans and our environment, or we can choose to chart a new course in our own country – one that better serves our collective needs and ensures a healthier, safer and kinder future for all.”
Objection to the Proposed Hunting / Export Quota for Elephant, Rhinoceros and Leopard Hunting Trophies for the 2021 Calendar Year
- By providing only figures for the quotas and failing to provide any justification for how these figures were arrived at, the Department has placed insufficient information before the public which makes it impossible to meaningfully interrogate or engage with the proposed 2021 quota.
- Initiating a public consultation process regarding quotas for the 2021 calendar year in the tenth month of the calendar year is unreasonable and irrational, particularly given that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) recommends that quotas should be established at least 30 days before the period to which they relate.
- Quota figures for these species cannot be established in the absence of a current “non-detriment finding” (NDF) which must be published in the government gazette. No NDF findings for elephant, rhinoceros and leopard have been gazetted for the present calendar year.
Draft Policy Position Submission
On 28 July 2021, Animal Law Reform South Africa provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft Policy Position on the Conservation and Ecologically Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros (the “Draft Policy Position”) Published for Public Comment on 28 June 2021.
In our Submission, we support the progressive and necessary elements in the Draft policy Position and highlight certain inconsistencies and nuances in the Draft Policy Position that could at best create ambiguity, and at worst give rise to interpretations of the Draft Policy Position that run counter to its vision and goals. In addition, we provide recommendations to the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment to be taken into account in the development of a final Policy.
National Biodiversity Framework Submission
On 3 May 2021, Animal Law Reform South Africa together with the EMS Foundation provided our Submission on South Africa’s Draft Revised National Biodiversity Framework (“NBF”) Published for Public Comment in Terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004).
In our Submission we call on the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment to respond to the need for transformational change in relation to biodiversity and wildlife more generally. We also provide background and context to this and other issues as they relate to the South African Constitution. We call on the Department to include key threats, sectors and stakeholders within the NBF, and provide comments on specific portions of the NBF.
Draft Live Export Guidelines Submission
On 30 April 2021, Animal Law Reform South Africa, together with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies submitted our comments on the Draft Guidelines for the transportation of Live Animals by Sea.
Climate Change – NDC Submission
On 30 April 2021, Animal Law Reform South Africa, together with the Environmental Law Association of South Africa submitted our initial comments on South Africa’s updated draft Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The updated draft NDC is the cornerstone of South Africa’s climate change response, and thus is a critical tool in tackling climate change. It is South Africa’s commitment in terms of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement (PA) to contribute to the global climate change effort.
YEAR OF THE TIGER REPORT with FOUR PAWS South Africa
In March 2022, FOUR PAWS South Africa released a report titled: “YEAR OF THE TIGER? Big Cat Farming in South Africa: The need for International Action”.
The legal review for the report was conducted by Animal Law Reform South Africa.
“Justice for Animals” Publication
In celebration of Nelson Mandela Day 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa released its “Justice for Animals” Publication. This Publication has been put together to assemble the fantastic work and efforts flowing from the 2019 Cape Town Animal Conference. We are extremely grateful to have been part of the Organising Collective for the Conference.
We hope that you enjoy it!
Webinar: “What is Animal Law?”
On 22 July 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa hosted a Webinar exploring the topic of – “What is Animal Law?”, with Professor Joyce Tischler.
We had a great turnout, and had people participating from Africa, Europe, America, Asia, North and South America and Australia.
We look forward to many more Webinars in the future, and will keep you updated of our next one.
High Level Panel Submissions and Presentations
(Elephants, Rhinos, Lions and Leopards)
On 15 June 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa together with the EMS Foundation provided our detailed Submission on the High Level Panel set up by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to Review Policies, Legislation and Practices on Matters Related to the Management, Breeding, Hunting, Trade and Handling of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros and Related Matters
On 6 October 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa together with the EMS Foundation presented our Submission to the High Level Panel set up by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries for the Review of Policies, Legislation and Practices on the Management, Breeding, Hunting, Trade and Handling of the Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros.
On 31 October 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa together with the EMS Foundation submitted answers to additional questions received from the High Level Panel arising from our Submission and Presentation.
Meat Safety Act Submission
On 30 June 2020, Animal Law Reform South Africa, together with the EMS Foundation, provided our comments on the proposed Amendments to Schedule 1 of the Meat Safety Act 2002 (“MSA”) to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (“DALRRD”).
Draft Animals Protection Amendment Bill Submission
On 14 October 2020, we provided our comments on the Proposed Draft Animals Protection Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to among other things, prohibit the testing of cosmetics on animals as well as the sale and manufacturing of cosmetics that are tested on animals. We welcome the intention behind this Draft Bill and support these efforts. Our comments included information that we believe may assist with the content of the Draft Bill, certain resources as well as some practical considerations as they pertain to the Draft Bill and the enforcement thereof.
Book Release: “Unfair Game” by Lord Aschcroft
(Picture Credit: Unfair Game / Lord Ashcroft: https://www.lordashcroft.com/2020/03/unfair-game/)
“Unfair Game” published on 16 June 2020 reveals the shocking results of an undercover operation into South Africa’s lion business by Lord Ashcroft. In this powerful exposé, he highlights issues with captive lions, including the increasing dangers to public health, the impacts on wild lions, the cruelty involved as well as economic and vested interests.
Animal Law Reform South Africa’s Co-founder and Director, Amy P. Wilson was interviewed as part of Lord Ashcroft’s inquiry and provided information as to certain legal aspects of the industry. In the book, Wilson notes the plethora of issues with the current regulation of wildlife in South Africa generally, as well as the underlying legal circumstances that have allowed the captive-lion industry to flourish.
Importantly, she notes that because of these: “…wild lions, once the pride of South Africa, have essentially been reduced to agricultural animals”.
Dairy Advertising Matter
(Prepared by Joanne Fairbrother, one of the Complainants in the matter)
We welcome the Ruling of the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) Appeals Committee in the matter of Fair Cape Dairies vs Kemp, Fairbrother, others made on 30 April 2020. The original complaints to the ARB stemmed from Fair Cape Dairies’ advertising utilising the words #HappyCows and “humane”. These complaints were dismissed by the Directorate, however, the Appeals Committee disagreed with the Directorate’s Ruling.
In their decision, they state that:
“… The use of the phrases/words “#HappyCows” and “humane” by Fair Cape in its advertising is in breach of clause 4.1 and 4.2.1 of the Code [of Advertising Practice].
…Fair Cape is instructed to withdraw the phrases/words “#HappyCows” and “humane” from its advertising in accordance with clause 15.3 and 15.5 of the Procedural Guide.”
Animal Law Reform South Africa is thankful to have been involved throughout this matter and providing research, input and various other assistance. We are proud of the decision and the work involved, and hope that this will encourage further action in the future.
Currently in relation to animals, the law is generally inadequate in both its provisions and enforcement. In many instances, policy and legislation fail to reflect our complex relationship with our fellow earthlings and provide them and us with the protection we all deserve!
Despite this, our courts have made a number of positive statements regarding animals and their status, indicating that they are sentient beings and elevating the welfare and protection of non-human animals to a constitutional concern.
This together with the increased public support for and emphasis on animal welfare, presents an opportunity to reform the law. Animals, like other vulnerable beings, need lawyers.
We work through three main pillars:
Animal Flourishing | Law | Social Justice
We focus on a few key areas that we believe will bring about the most change. These focus areas include:
1. Legislative and Policy Reform
2. Litigation and Legal Services
3. Education and Research
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We work collaboratively with a number of organisations in South Africa, Africa and internationally.
We are proud members of the following networks and alliances:
Partnership with the Global Research Network: Animals & Biodiversity Think Tank
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature – African Hub
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We have some exciting initiatives planned for 2023!
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Food Systems Project:
Food System Research Fund of Humane America Animal Foundation (HAAF)
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