In a recent article by Washington, DC based journalist Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red, which documents corporate attempts to silence activists, Potter discusses how Big Ag lobbyists are pushing for new state-level laws to prevent consumers from learning how food is produced.
These AG-gag bills would criminalize whistleblowers, investigators, and journalists who expose animal welfare abuses at factory farms and slaughterhouses.
“Ten states considered ‘AG-gag’ bills last year, and Iowa, Missouri, and Utah approved them. Even more are soon to follow.”
Potter points out that if these laws had been in force, the Humane Society might have been prosecuted for documenting repeated animal welfare and food safety violations at Hallmark/Westland, formerly the second-largest supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program.
Cows too sick to walk were being slaughtered and meat from those cows was shipped to our schools, endangering our kids. The investigation led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.
Potter adds that in Wyoming, video footage showed workers at a Tyson supplier kicking live piglets and pummeling mother pigs. The film led to criminal charges against nine employees, including two managers.
And in Pennsylvania, “an investigation of a major regional egg supplier, Kreider Farms, showed decomposing birds packed into cages among the living. Other hens had their heads stuck in cage wire and were left to die.”
Ag-gag bills are now pending in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, and New Hampshire, with similar legislation being formulated in North Carolina and Minnesota.
Some legislative language criminalizes anyone who even “records an image or sound” from a factory farm. Others mandate that witnesses report abuses within a few hours, deterring whistleblowers from seeking advice and protection, or documenting abusive patterns.
Indiana’s legislation suggests those engaged in openly opposing AG policies are terrorists. “Farmers have the right to engage in agricultural operations free from the threat of terrorism and interference from unauthorized third persons.”
But as Potter points out, these bills are really designed to insulate corporate brands from critical oversight and prevent concerned citizens from exposing the truth. “For these corporations, a ‘terrorist’ is anyone who threatens their profits by exposing inhumane practices that may jeopardize consumer health,” writes Potter.
As more and more Americans want to know where their food comes from and how it’s produced, these corporate inspired bills are a desperate bid to suppress consumer access to information at a time when social media’s rising influence and power is beginning to unseat and overwhelm corporate controlled mainstream media’s propaganda.
Potter notes that an informed public is the biggest threat to these AG-gag bills. In Wyoming, one of the bills has already failed. “By shining a light on these attempts, we can make sure that the rest fail as well, while protecting the right of consumers to know what they’re buying.”
February 28th, 2013