First European lawsuit ever against intensive livestock farming filed in Italy, thanks to Italian Party for the Animals

4 October 2023

A group of “lawyers for the environment and animal rights” initiated a lawsuit to declare intensive livestock farming unconstitutional in Italy. It is the first lawsuit of its kind in to be filed in Europe.

Amendment to the constitution

The lawsuit was initiated in response to an amendment to the Italian constitution that came into effect in February 2022, and which means that from that moment onwards animals and the environment are recognised as autonomous subjects and should therefore be accorded protection against prior exceptions to animal welfare and environmental protection laws.

On the basis of this premise, a group of “lawyers for the environment and animal rights”, composed of Giuseppe Libutti, Michele Trotta and Cristiano Ceriello, filed a lawsuit against intensive livestock farming. The three lawyers are backed by the Save the Chickens Foundation, the Associazione Difesa Consumatori e Contribuenti (the Consumer and Taxpayer Defence Association), the Movimento Etico Tutela Animali e Ambiente (the Ethical Movement for the Protection of Animals and the Environment) and the Partito Animalista Italiano (Italian Party for the Animals), and many signatures from animal rights activists.


In a statement, the lawyers call this amendment to their constitution “groundbreaking”. “It will have a significant effect on current Italian regulations”, they say. “Our campaign against intensive farming is only a first step in this direction.”

To explain the reason for their campaign, the lawyers point out that “intensive farms are not only places of atrocious suffering for animals, who often spend their entire lives without ever seeing the light of day, but also one of the major causes of pollution and therefore an important risk factor for public health.”

However, there are other important reasons for taking action against animal farming besides animal welfare and pollution. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness of zoonotic diseases. Last week, in the Italian province of Pavia, some 33,000 pigs were slaughtered in intensive pig farms due to outbreaks of African swine fever, a highly contagious viral disease for pigs. Chances are high that the next pandemic could be caused by the intensive poultry farming industry in the form of bird flu – a disease that is already affecting many birds, both in farms and in the wild, all over the globe.

The “lawyers for the environment and animal rights” took their cues from the Dutch court case filed by Friends of the Earth Netherlands against oil company Shell. In 2021, the court ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030. Following this lead, the Italian collective of lawyers will try to get intensive livestock farming prohibited in their country through legal action by means of a verdict by the Constitutional Court. That would be truly groundbreaking!