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Animal abuse

Iowa legislature prompted by Big Ag to ban secret filming of animal abuse

Thursday, March 17, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: animal abuse, videos, health news

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(NaturalNews) Many NaturalNews readers have probably seen at least one of the many shocking video clips found online or in movies that expose the horrors of animal abuse taking place at industrial factory farms. Such videos offer a glimpse at the horrific abuses taking place in industrial agriculture. However, a new bill put forth by agriculture committees in both the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate seeks to outlaw and criminalize the undercover filming of such conditions.

If passed, the bill would turn into criminals those who merely seek to get the truth out about what is actually taking place in the confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from where most of the nation's food supply is derived. Those caught filming workers beating pigs being beaten or chickens confined dozens to a single cage, for instance, would face fines of up to $7,500 and up to five years in prison for doing so.

Sponsored by Big Ag, the measure is a clear attempt to silence the truth about factory farming. After all, exposing the public to thousands of cows confined in filthy, disease-laden manure pits tends to turn consumers off to the idea of eating conventional beef or drinking conventional milk. And witnessing millions of chickens locked in tight cages walking on each other's dead corpses is not exactly good for the egg and poultry industries, either.

"It's very transparent what agribusiness is attempting to do here," said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Association, a California-based animal protection group, to the Austin American Statesman (AES). "They're trying to intimidate whistleblowers and put a chill on legitimate anti-cruelty investigations. Clearly the industry feels it has something to hide or it wouldn't be going to these extreme and absurd lengths."

The industry introduced the bill after several undercover videos were recently released showing cows being shocked, baby chicks being ground up alive, and other heinous abuses. Big Ag claims the bill is merely an attempt to stop phony job-seekers from gaining positions at factory farms only to expose them.

But opponents of the bill say that it will only make abuses more secretive, and thus more prevalent, because it criminalizes those who would dare bring the truth to light.

"We feel the agribusiness industry should be trying to root out animal cruelty and expose it," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, a Chicago-based animal protection group, to AES. "As a moral society, it is our obligation to prevent all cruelty to animals and it's difficult to end abuse when you can't expose it."

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