US Ag-Gag Laws Can Be Dangerous to Your Health


B. McPherson

 This past week saw prosecutors in Utah first charge, then drop the charges is what is seen as the first attempt to criminalize someone under the little known Ag-Gag laws being enacted in many states. This incident involved a woman who had heard cruelty stories about a slaughterhouse in Draper City. She went to look for herself, remaining on the road allowance, but could clearly see some of the activity. She was repulsed by what she saw, activated the camera on her cell phone and starting recording. The plant manager ordered her to stop and she refused, stating that she was on public land. Cops were called and they backed up the woman. Later she was charged under the Utah legislation that prohibits the filming of animal abuse of farmed animals.

Many of us have seen the videos on PETA’s site of animals in factory farms living in horrendous conditions. Gratuitous violence against animals from chickens to milk cows has been uncovered. Evidence presented of slaughterhouses processing animals too sick to stand, into the human food chain has led to massive recalls of beef. Sometimes change for the better occurs when a strong light is shone onto the floors of the meat, egg, milk factories.

Many of the places operating animal factories are not clean. Cattle in feed lots are often hip deep in their own manure. Pigs may never see the sky in their lifetimes and the filth that the breeding sows must endure before they in turn enter the food chain endangers those who consume their flesh, both from the increased chances of feces from their hide contaminating the meat and from the routine use of antibiotics to fight infections that breed antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Some factory farms ignore or skirt antipollution laws. Think about how much poop a five hundred pound pig will produce in a day and then multiply it by 5 000. That’s quite a disposal problem. While responsible factory operators will respect the environment, those that are not need to be outed.

Yet the very laws being enacted in many US states are protecting the bad actors. Whether we care about animal welfare or not, the Ag-Gag laws endanger the health of the public.

Some people are taking action to try to stop the insidious erosion of food safety in the US. There is a petition started to stop thespread of Ag-Gag laws. If you care about what you eat, you might wish to sign it.

The Humane Society of the United States has come out strongly against the enactment of Ag-Gag laws.

The HSUSA has outlined why these pernicious laws need to be revoked.
“Anti-whistleblower bills effectively block anyone from exposing animal cruelty, food-safety issues, poor working conditions, and more, by way of the following:
 Banning taking a photo or video of a factory farm without permission,
Essentially making it a crime for an investigator to get work at a factory farm, or
Requiring mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.”
States with Ag-Gag Laws in Effect: Utah, Iowa, Missouri
States with Ag-Gag Laws Pending: Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee, Wyoming, Vermont. Pennsylvania also makes it a crime to post videos of factory farms on the net.

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