42. Class Act (04/2011)

by brettthevet

The new Consumer Protection Act (CPA) which comes into force on 1st April 2011, will place South Africans among the most protected and powerful consumers in the world. The new act could give consumers the power to put an end to cruel and inhumane production systems that cause suffering, distress, and misery in farm animals.
In terms of the new Consumer Protection Act, an accredited organization has the right to take action against conduct that is ‘unconscionable’. The Act then defines ‘unconscionable’ as being ‘unethical or improper to a degree that would shock the conscience of a reasonable person.’

In terms of the Act consumers also have the right to fair and honest dealing from suppliers. A supplier may not knowingly take advantage of consumers who are not able to protect their own interests due, inter alia, to ignorance and illiteracy. Most shoppers are ignorant of conditions on factory farms because the industry effectively conceals the horrors of factory farming from the public. Lack of proper labeling by suppliers is often misleading, if not blatantly incorrect, keeping consumers ignorant as to how the animals providing their food live and die.
The introduction of the CPA has clearly been necessitated by the escalating levels of ‘unconscionable’ conduct in a growing consumer society that is constantly demanding more and cheaper products. Unchecked greed has far reaching implications for food production animals who end up in crowded conditions that maximize production at the expense of animal well-being.

Farmers who adhere strictly to good agricultural practices will have nothing to worry about. The problem is that many modern farming systems that would ‘shock the conscience of a reasonable person’ are considered to be ‘normal’ by people habituated to institutionalized cruelty. The rising number of so called ‘green’ farmers who will be vindicated by the impact of the new Act, welcoming the opportunity to be recognized for their efforts in placing the highest priority on the welfare of the animals under their care. With greater transparency of farming methods, properly informed consumers will have clearer guidelines providing knowledge for making more ethical choices.

Compassion in World Farming (SA) believes that the new Consumer Protection Act could be the catalyst for a phase-out of factory farming in South Africa. CIWF believes our treatment of farm animals in many cases is improper to a degree that would shock the conscience of reasonable people. CIWF has fulfilled the requirements for accreditation and will be taking class action in terms of the Act to challenge ‘unconscionable’ methods of animal production. The initial focus for CIWF will be to demand a ban on battery hens and sow crates in South Africa. These are two of the cruelest systems that have either been banned already or are being phased out in many other parts of the world.
To support the CIWF endeavor go to http://www.animal-voice.org/component/option,com_facileforms/Itemid,125/