Originally published May 26 2011
Immediate opposition needed against bills that criminalize those who expose horrors of factory farms
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The factory food industry is apparently suffering from significant profit and public image losses due to increased exposure of the horrific conditions at factory farms. Several states currently have legislation before them that seeks to outlaw the practice of videotaping or otherwise documenting what takes place at Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and the authors and sponsors of these bill are largely connected to CAFOs themselves.
For years, undercover workers have been exposing the true nature of factory food and the industrial farms from which it comes. Workers abusing animals, unsanitary and extremely confined living spaces, sick and dead animals -- all these aspects of CAFOs exposed through video and audio tend to steer the public away from factory food. So "Big Agriculture" is now waging a legal war against those who would try to expose the truth in an effort to protect the industry.
Bills introduced in Minnesota, Florida, and Iowa, all aim to criminalize not only those who film or take pictures of factory farms, but also those who publish or share them with the public. Florida's SB 1246, which would have made it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without permission, was recently defeated. But SF 431 in Iowa, and both HR 1369 and SF 1118 in Minnesota, are still a threat to freedom of speech.
"It doesn't take a close reading of the Constitution to know you can't make photographing private property from a distance illegal," said Tom Laskawy in a recent Grist article on the subject. "[Laws like these] could have a chilling effect on undercover work of all kinds ... you could imagine many different industries scrambling to have similar laws passed to protect them from muckraking reporters or activists" (http://www.grist.org/industrial-agriculture/...).
Iowa's SF 431 has already passed the state House, but is still up for a Senate vote. You can still oppose the bill by visiting:
Likewise, you can oppose the Minnesota bills by visiting:
Sources for this story include:
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