Where Are They Now? Paige Tomaselli
Paige Tomaselli is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety. With a passion for fighting factory farms, she practices environmental and administrative law with an eye on preventing harmful food production practices such as pesticides, genetically modified crops, and the ills of factory farming. In contrast, in her position at CFS she promotes local, organic, humane, and socially-just food systems.
The appalling conditions of factory farms lit a fire in Paige as a student and directed the course of her career. As an undergraduate at Humboldt State University, Paige studied environmental and animal ethics—courses that formed the moral structure of the work she does today. From there, Paige completed a degree in animal and environmental law at the Vermont Law School.
As a law student, Paige was president of her Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter as well as a member of the student leadership council and a founder of the Solutions Conference. It was at Vermont Law that Paige also published an important article, “Detailed Discussion of International Comparative Animal Cruelty Laws.”
After moving to San Francisco, Paige became engaged in the local food movement by volunteering at the farmer’s market, learning about gardening and compositing, and participating in the construction of urban farms. A position at the environmental law firm Sher Leff transitioned her to her position at the Center for Food Safety. As she says, “at that point my passion for sustainable food systems and my career intersected.”
“Paige’s career path is a great example of one of the many ways the field of animal law connects with other areas of law and advocacy,” said Nicole Pallota, Student Programs Coordinator for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Paige’s educational roots are the foundation of her advocacy work for the public good at CFS. For example, Paige is currently involved in a half dozen other cases regarding factory farms—including a joint lawsuit with ALDF, PETA, and the ACLU that takes on the constitutionality of Idaho’s anti-whistle-blower ” ag gag” law. Just last year, she helped CFS and other food safety, public health, and conservation groups successfully ensure that the Food and Drug Administration withdrew its approval of several arsenic-based animal feed additives and nearly all arsenic-based animal drugs. Arsenic had been fed to chickens to speed up weight gain on less feed and gave packaged meat products from chickens, turkeys, and pigs, the false appearance of healthy products.
Paige is driven to protect animals in “the abhorrent conditions at these facilities,” she says, because “I don’t see a difference between companion animals and animals raised for food when it comes to welfare.” Furthermore, factory farms are infamous, yet often go unpunished, for enormous violations of animal welfare, environmental, and worker safety laws.
In addition to her work on these cases, Paige may be found testifying for state legislatures, publishing her research, and presenting at top conferences in her field. What would she tell a younger generation of attorneys? “It is important to stay true to yourself and your goals, get as much practical and hands-on experience as possible, and network!” Paige lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and 11 year-old cat, Tweak.
Among ALDF’s many efforts to support the field of animal law is our growing network of Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters on law school campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada. SALDF chapters provide a forum for education, advocacy, and scholarship, aiming to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. In this continuing series of updates on former SALDF members, ALDF is proud to spotlight Paige Tomaselli.