Should We Try to Change Animal Welfare Laws in India or Taiwan?- Charity Entrepreneurship's Approach Report

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Policy changeFarmed Animal Welfare
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The following report is part of research conducted by Charity Entrepreneurship in 2019 looking into legal change as a potential approach used to implement asks.

The full report is available for download here.

In 2020 we will be following a new research process (details will be published soon).

Scope of research and description of the approach

Political advocacy is used widely by other social movements and corporations to gain leverage over key issues, but within the animal advocacy movement, this approach has mainly been used in more developed nations with initiatives such as Prop 12 in the animal advocacy movement view government campaigns as an important strategy to improve animal welfare in the long term [2]. Encoding welfare asks in the law has been used to build on the past success of corporate campaigns while avoiding some of the drawbacks of corporate campaigns such as recidivism [3]. Even so, this approach for affecting change is currently relatively uncommon, with only 8 of Animal Charity Evaluators’ 20 reviewed organizations working on governmental outreach (where governmental outreach is broadly defined as lobbying), and even this is in a limited capacity (combined they spent 19.4% of their budget [4] (note that this estimate from ACE doesn’t include spending on Prop 12 [1])).

Of the countries examined in our priority country analysis [5] and crucial considerations research [6], Taiwan and India seemed particularly promising, as they have had a relatively large and growing farmed animal population compared to funding and appear to be more open to influence on this issue.

In this report, the expected cost-effectiveness of a new government campaign in Taiwan and India is estimated. In Taiwan the campaign is for dissolved oxygen for farmed fish, and in India the campaign is for feed fortification for egg-laying hens. These welfare asks were chosen as they were found to be promising in Charity Entrepreneurship’s previous research into improving environmental conditions for farmed animals [7] and helping animals by changing their diet [8]. We are focusing on fish in Taiwan due to its high levels of production and consumption of fish [9], and we are focusing on egg-laying hens in India as India is reportedly the third-largest and fastest-growing egg producer in the world, with the industry growing at 6%–8% per year [10]. As this approach has been relatively neglected so far, there isn’t much research into its effectiveness, so we used a broad evidence base to try to get the best sense of the whole picture. To do this, we have examined the size of the effect and the historical success rate of bills and referendums in the country.

Table of contents

Conclusion

The current data suggest that a governmental campaign for a dissolved oxygen bill for farmed fish in Taiwan looks like a relatively promising, cost-effective intervention for improving farmed animal welfare. It also appears that a governmental campaign for food fortification in India is one of the less cost-effective interventions for animals that Charity Entrepreneurship has researched. Our subjective confidence that this conclusion is correct is ~70%. For comparison, a well-executed government campaign in Taiwan is expected to be moderately less, or equally as cost-effective as launching a new corporate outreach campaign concerning a priority ask in a priority country (where launching a corporate campaign for DO in Vietnam [97] is used as the direct point of comparison), whereas a government campaign in India is expected to be less cost-effective than launching a new corporate outreach campaign. Although this is a useful comparison, we are less certain about the relative cost-effectiveness of this intervention compared to corporate outreach.

READ THE FULL REPORT

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13 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:47 PM
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I won't say my opinion is very informed here, but in India, the growing acceptability of meat consumption (with younger people less likely to be vegetarian, as mentioned in the report) and the current government seem like reasons to expect bigger asks to be easier to make now than in the next few decades. It seems like attitudes will get worse before they get better again.

Maybe asking for low maximum stocking densities would be promising in India? Or otherwise prescribing farming practices, like Sentience Politics' and Switzerland's initiative to ban factory farming by requiring animals to be farmed according to organic standards (including imports).

Or, appeal to purity and health, and ask for animal farms to be cleaner in certain ways that also benefit animals. Of course, stocking densities are also relevant here, because of disease spread and pollution.

EDIT: Ah, I guess stocking densities are harder to verify and enforce, and this would be particularly difficult in India, which you say has problems with enforcement already.

Hi Michael, thanks for your comment!

These are interesting ideas that could be worth considering, but you're definitely right that any interventions that work on a state-wide/nation-wide scale will be very difficult to enforce and this poor enforcement will likely be the limiting factor to the success of any intervention like this. I will make a note of these ideas, though, to have a look into when I next have the chance, thanks!

Glad to see research into affecting policy and government more directly, and generally approaches other than corporate campaigns (although they appear to be very cost-effective in many cases). Thanks for this!

I see that the two CEAs had different authors (https://www.getguesstimate.com/models/13985, https://www.getguesstimate.com/models/13821 ). Is there a reason the welfare impact per animal is normal for feed fortification in India and log-normal for dissolved oxygen in Taiwan? For what it's worth, switching between normal and log-normal didn't make much difference to the overall cost-effectiveness.

Yeah this report was split between me doing research into feed fortification in India and George doing research into DO in Taiwan.

That's a good question, I don't think it was intentional - probably just the way we both went about modelling things. But I will leave George to answer that properly as to why he used log-normal.

I've slowly been updating towards lower expected WP returns to improved DO based on conversations I have had with Fish Welfare Initiative. It seem likely that more fish are in the lower end of welfare benefit for DO optimization because of the natural incentives that exist for farmers in regards to DO. Low DO levels increase mortality and fluctuation in air pressure can cause DO to plummet so farmers often use extra buffer. Therefore any fish suffering -40 WP from DO levels alone would probably die , I think log-normal best captures this. Thanks for pointing this out as i did not make it explicit in the report.

If food fortification or dissolved oxygen improves yield, couldn't that increase supply and demand rather than decrease them? If at the same cost per animal as before, farmers can now produce more food, they would farm more animals. Of course, costs won't be the same, so there could be effects in each direction.

Also, could improving animal health through these asks end up being cost-saving somehow? Maybe it would reduce the time spent attending to sick or injured animals? That could also end up increasing the number of farmed animals.

This could end up flipping the sign of the value of the intervention.

I think that both feed fortification and dissolved oxygen will increase costs for farmers as they will need to pay for the nutrients to supplement feed with or for the aeration equipment, so this could decrease supply and demand.

I do agree, though, that these interventions will improve yields, which as you say could increase supply and demand.

The problem is that I am unsure of the magnitudes of both of these effects so I don't know what the overall sign for the intervention would be. I think I would still lean towards it decreasing supply and demand overall, though, as I'm unsure of how much yields would improve but I am quite confident that costs of production will increase.

It might be worth widening your distribution for the effects on supply/demand further into the negative and checking sensitivity to this value and the size of the welfare improvement for individuals.

On further consideration, I'd imagine the effects of the welfare improvement will dominate the effects of change in number (as they do now), since they're a few orders of magnitude larger in absolute value, anyway.

  • For dissolved oxygen in Taiwan, it was 30 billion welfare points from the welfare improvement and 610 million welfare points from reduced supply/demand.
  • For feed fortification in India, 180 million welfare points from the welfare improvement and 60,000 welfare points from reduced supply/demand.

So flipping the signs of the supply/demand effect wouldn't make much difference.

An alternative to the charity ensuring enforcement itself would be to hand off this part of the intervention to another organization that is already focused on ensuring law enforcement in India [10] such as HSI/India [59] or the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) [60].

Do these orgs send auditors/inspectors/undercover investigators?

Follow-up Enforcement Campaign for Feed Fortification for Hens in India

Maybe there are some regulations that could be checked together, so it isn't just the effect on feed fortification enforcement, but better enforcement for cage-free housing, space, etc., too, at the same time. This might increase the cost-effectiveness of enforcement a few times (if the other regulations have similar welfare impacts). However, if enforcement didn't seem cost-effective for feed fortification, and lobbying for feed fortification in the first place is much less cost-effective than corporate campaigns, being able to enforce multiple regulations at a time might not make much difference, unless the other regulations have much greater welfare impacts.

Given the unreliable enforcement in India, maybe a charity that focuses on (routine) audits/inspections (or undercover investigations) in India (or specific regions) and raises issues to the appropriate authorities would be worthwhile. Or, we could reach out to organizations in India and offer them donations to do (more of) this, like the Bombay SPCA, which you write have some power to enforce, if I understood correctly. Given the differences in costs of living, it might be fairly cheap for EAs to hire some full-time staff in India to work on this. Maybe we'd just pay for one full-time hire per region to inspect? I suppose this could end up being relatively ineffective for the same reasons enforcement campaigns seem relatively ineffective.

Maybe we could also lobby the government to spend more on enforcement?

I'm unsure what FIAPO do for enforcement, but HSI/India try to improve enforcement by doing workshops with police departments in various states and districts to help them to understand and learn animal welfare laws and how they can implement them as they think that one of the big barriers to poor enforcement is that it is common for enforcement officers to not be aware of new policies.


I'm unsure about the impact of lobbying the government to spend more on enforcement, but I would be more excited about a charity which focuses on enforcement or giving money to existing orgs so that they can do more work on enforcement as you suggested, but again because of the poor enforcement and how difficult it could be to improve this, I would still probably lean towards this not being the best thing we could do.

Did "Eastern China" in the Faunalytics report include Taiwan? I couldn't find anything saying so here.

Hi Michael,

You're right that the Faunalytics report didn't include Taiwan, but we used the results from Eastern China as a proxy to the attitudes in Taiwan as this was the best option available to us.