International Coalition Urges Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Investigate Abuses from Industrial Meat, Egg, Dairy Facilities

The thematic hearing request is supported by 243 organizations, including petitioning groups from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and the United States. The request urges the commission, which monitors human rights within the Organization of American States, to investigate human rights abuses resulting from the unchecked expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, across the

Contacts

Nydia Guti茅rrez, Earthjustice, (202) 302-7531, ngutierrez@earthjustice.org (United States)

Hannah Connor, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org (United States)

Alberto Velazquez, Indignaci贸n, +52 999 902 5177, yuumbeto@gmail.com (Mexico)

Claudia Reinoso, Slow Food, +56 93 201 9406, claudia.reinoso@gmail.com (Chile)

Xavier Le贸n Vega, Acci贸n Ecol贸gica, +593 99 390 6602, xavierobjetor@gmail.com (Ecuador)

Nora G铆menez, Conciencia Solidaria, integrante del colectivo Somos Monte, +54 9 362 469 7801, norabgimenez@yahoo.com.ar (Argentina)

Ang茅lica Sim贸n, Greenpeace M茅xico, +55 408 45320, asimon@greenpeace.org (Mexico)

Juan V谩zquez, ARTICLE 19, comunicacion@article19.org (Mexico)

Indigenous, human-rights, conservation and public health groups asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hold a thematic hearing on human-rights abuses caused by industrial meat, egg, and dairy facilities across the American continents.

The request urges the commission, which monitors human rights within the Organization of American States, to investigate human-rights abuses resulting from the unchecked expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, across the Americas. The groups are asking the commission to issue a report with recommendations to address those abuses.

The coalition previously requested a thematic hearing on the CAFO abuses in October 2021 and met with representatives of the commission in November 2021. It now seeks a full hearing before the commission.

The 20 petitioning groups include groups from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and the United States. The request is additionally supported by 243 organizations.

The request highlights a new report showing that industrial animal feeding operations in the United States disproportionately harm Indigenous communities, communities of color and low-income communities.

Several of the parties joining the request represent Indigenous tribes, such as Mayan tribes in the Yucat谩n Peninsula in Mexico, whose rights of self-determination, autonomy, and self-governance have consistently been ignored as CAFOs have expanded in the region. Those rights include the rights to free, prior and informed consent and consultation before the approval of any activity that affects Indigenous territory.

鈥淭he government has authorized a 49,000-pig farm in our Mayan territory that is located in two natural protected areas,鈥 said Doroteo Hau of Guardianes de los Cenotes, M茅xico. 鈥淲e organized ourselves to resist the operation, we held a consultation process, and the people said 鈥榥o鈥 to the farm. Water is the most important thing, and we know the farm will damage the water. Scientists say our soil is karstic, we say it is porous, and everything seeps into the groundwater. We are defending what is ours and what will be for our children.鈥

The expansion of CAFOs has caused a range of human-rights abuses across the American continents. Those abuses include human health harms and drinking-water contamination, both of which constitute violations of the right to a healthy environment.

鈥淚n Chile we can no longer sustain megafarms,鈥 said Andrea Cisneros of Movimiento Socioambiental Valle del Huasco, Chile. 鈥淲e live in a country where all the water is privately owned and the little that is left is contaminated. In addition, these operations produce nauseating odors that do not allow us to live or enjoy our daily lives.鈥

鈥淚n Ecuador, intensive animal husbandry megafarms cause pollution around rivers that communities use for their food sovereignty,鈥 said Xavier Le贸n Vega of Acci贸n Ecol贸gica, Ecuador. 鈥淒espite this, these megafarms continue to expand thanks to financing from international organizations such as the World Bank.鈥

Many of the abuses detailed in the request occur alongside threats and other intimidation by agribusiness interests looking to continue with business as usual to the detriment of neighboring communities. A recent report found that at least 200 environmental activists and Indigenous defenders were killed in 2021 鈥 nearly four people a week. Agribusiness, logging, and mining interests are considered key drivers of the violence.

鈥淚n the province of Chaco, Argentina, in 2020, the executive branch signed an agreement with the company Feng Tian Food as part of a strategic partnership agreement with China for the installation of integrated pig production complexes,鈥 said of Nora Gimenez of Conciencia Solidaria, part of Colectivo Somos Monte Argentina. 鈥淭his generated a lot of resistance among the population that mobilized and protested the agreement despite facing intimidation from the provincial police that included following people, power cuts, and threats to impose fines. The lack of official information on the agreement and the repression has extended the conflict from the city to the municipalities where we have never been able to obtain official information.”

The request details the grave harms to human health and the environment associated with CAFOs across the Americas. These harms include contamination of water, including naturally occurring freshwater wells known as cenotes, emission of noxious air pollution, the spread of dangerous pathogens, and contributions to climate change.

鈥淔actory farms can鈥檛 be allowed to keep trampling on the fundamental human right to clean air and water,鈥 said Hannah Connor, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 鈥淲e鈥檝e simply got to find ways to stop the ongoing daily harms from this destructive industry.鈥

The request is being filed on behalf of 20 groups: ARTICLE 19 M茅xico y Centroam茅rica, Acci贸n Ecol贸gica, Asociaci贸n Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Asociaci贸n Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas, C谩tedra Libre de Soberan铆a Alimentaria de la Escuela de Nutrici贸n de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Center for Biological Diversity, Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Yopoi, Conciencia Solidaria, Earthjustice, Kanan Derechos Humanos, Guardianes de los cenotes 鈥淜anan Ts鈥檕no鈥檕t鈥, Greenpeace M茅xico, Movimiento Socioambiental Valle del Huasco, Museo del Hambre, Programa de Derechos Humanos, Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de M茅xico, Red de Abogadas y Abogados por la Soberan铆a Alimentaria (REDASA), Representantes de la Infancia de Hom煤n, Seminario sobre el Derecho Humano a la Alimentaci贸n Adecuada de la Facultad de Derecho de la UBA, Slow Food Chile, and Waterkeeper Alliance. The request is additionally supported by 243 organizations.

View the request in English.

View the request in Spanish.

Background

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is a quasi鈥恓udicial body that promotes and protects human rights as part of the Inter鈥怉merican Human Rights System. The regional system was created to monitor and ensure the protection of human rights within the 35 member states of the Organization of American States, including Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and the United States.

Non-governmental organizations in member states have the right to request that the commission hold a thematic hearing on human-rights abuses. These are used to compile information about a particular human-rights issue in one or more member states. The commission has the discretion to accept or reject hearing requests.

Thematic hearings can address a wide range of human-rights concerns. Recent hearings have dealt with human-rights harms from environmental issues such as fracking, large dams, and the right to water. Hearings have also dealt with solitary confinement, juvenile justice, national security, Indigenous rights, racial discrimination, human trafficking, rights of migrants and farmworkers, excessive use of force, detention at the U.S.鈥怣exico border, and stand-your-ground laws.

For additional information on thematic hearings at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.