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Constitutional Complaint against Factory Farming - Citizen Suit for Life and the Earth 2013.06.27 17:06 5193
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The Green Party Korea and Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) designed citizen suit for life and the earth against factory farming while attorneys Suh-yeon Chang and Ji-hwa Seo jointly filed the complaint to the Constitutional Court against factory farm on May 30th.


The lawsuit was initiated in order to reflect the strong will of the advocates to bring changes to the reality of Korea where animal rights are far from being aware of. It was apparent from the outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in 2010 when tens of thousands of innocent animals were slaughtered in an inhumane manner. 1,129 citizens willingly participated as claimants sharing common concerns on the issue.


Factory farming, which has been blamed as the main culprit of many infectious diseases, such as the hoof-and-mouth disease that prevailed few years ago, is a breeding mode that rooted from the human-centered mind that considers animals as means to earn profits or as simple  commodities, not the precious lives that need to be respected. In order to make the most meat production at the lowest cost, the animals are pushed into tiny spaces regardless their habits or fundamental needs.


The legislation on animal husbandry leaves animal welfare out of its consideration, and it has insufficient regulation for breeding facilities and rearing density. Rather, it encourages big-scale factory farmings by supporting such cruel practices. As a result, the domestic number of livestock rapidly increased and the number of livestock per unit area demonstrates a dramatic upward tendency compared with the year 1990.


Chickens, ill-treated the most, are raised in a cage smaller than the size of a piece of A4 paper for their lifetime. The cage is full of ammoniac gas, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide gas, and consequently it leads to serious diseases such as severe limps, bone related diseases, respiratory diseases and severe eye diseases. Such an unhealthy environment with high rearing density resulted high death rates of hogs of 11.4% in 2009. The current legislation on animal husbandry in Korea is inadequate compared with the EU standard that forbids the use of chicken cage from 2012, and the closed stall farming, still in practice here in Korea, from 2013.


Animal welfare means guaranteeing fundamental conditions for them with ethical responsibility when it comes to using them. The Office International des Epizooties (OIE) defines animal welfare as an animal in the state of healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, being able to express innate behavior, and without suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Unlike South Korea, Germany clarified the governments responsibility for animal protection on the Constitution after the revision of fundamental law in 2002. In Korea, however, the Constitution does not specify any kinds of revisions regarding animal rights. But the Constitution defines the environmental right as one of the basic rights and requires a nation and its citizens to be responsible for environmental perseveration as well as animal and plant protection. In addition animal protection law, in accordance with basic spirits of the Constitution and environmental law, prohibits abusive treatment of animals for their dignity and value.


However, the stock raising law of Korea lacks the minimum standard for animal welfare. Hogs canine teeth and tales are removed under the pretext of preventing from biting each other in the confined space. A 5 to 7 day-old boar is neutered without anesthesia to get rid of stench of meat. When animals get hurt, the wounds are untreated if the affected part is not for meat product. The beak of a new born chick is removed for preventing from pecking at the other chickens. Also in order to bring the second breeding season forward, the chickens are starved and kept awake by force.


Few people will eat meat after getting to know exactly how beef, pork and chicken are produced and how the livestock suffers. However, structural problem is too serious to ascribe factory farming to the ethical problem of individual consumers.


Per capita meat consumption of Korea greatly increased from 5.2kg per year in 1970 to 41.1kg per year in 2010. The domestic number of cattle (beef, dairy) in 2010 significantly increased compared to 2.13 million in the year of 2000, and 9.98 million hogs which is over a million more compared to the year of 2000 were raised. The land-to-breeding scale ratio of the Republic of Korea is the highest in the world.


Animals raised in factory farming have low level of immunity and suffer from infectious diseases, and will exert bad influence upon human health. People are at greater risk of developing inflammatory disease and adult diseases, and the administration of antibiotics for growth stimulating purposes instead of therapeutic purposes is the world's highest. The livestock excretions from factory farming are also causing serious pollution and climate changes. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the livestock industry accounted for 18% of greenhouse gas exhaustion which is much greater than 13.5% of transportation.


It is the first lawsuit making the government take constitutional responsibility for recklessly allowing and encouraging the factory farming.



by_ attorney Suh-yeon Chang