Agribusiness attacks Freedom of Speech, seeking laws to bar exposing their misdeeds
Businesses that do bad things (like dump toxins on public land or run sweatshop operations that amount to slavery) really do not want people to know what they are doing, for obvious reasons. So in the agricultural businesses, the bright idea has taken hold to make it illegal to inform the public of the disgusting practices the businesses are doing. I doubt such laws can survive a serious court challenge, but serious court challenges cost money, and though big corporations have a lot of it (and want more all the time), most private citizens do not. So although private citizens can take photos and take notes and publish findings via the Internet, they probably cannot mount a serious court challenge, and that is exactly what big corporations depend on.
Kaleigh Rogers of Motherboard reports:
Another day, another factory farm with disgusting conditions and inhumane treatment. On Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released details on an undercover investigation of a factory egg farm in Maine where dead chickens were left to rot until they mummified, and 4 million birds were each kept in cages smaller in area than a sheet of paper.
But in some parts of the country, the agricultural sector is successfully campaigning for laws that would make it illegal to publicly expose these kind of conditions, and even snapping the photo at the top of this post would be against the law.
Photos and videos show conditions on the egg farm that Paul Shapiro, HSUS’s vice president of farm animal protection, called “hideously cruel and inhumane.” Chickens are shown living in cramped cages, sometimes injured and caught on rusty wire and unable to reach food or water, and sometimes surrounded by excrement, dead birds, or poisoned rodents.
Aside from the animal welfare concerns, these kinds of conditions brew serious health risks, according to Joann Lindenmayer, a veterinarian and public health expert with Humane Society International.
“These are the risk factors that lead to salmonella, mice and flies are known vectors of salmonella,” Lindenmayer said during a press conference. “I’m appalled.”
This whole narrative isn’t anything new. In fact, this exact same egg producer, Hillandale Farms, was the subject of an undercover investigation revealing similar conditions at a location in Pennsylvania just last year. At the time, Hillandale said the conditions at that farm were not representative of its facilities.
Hillandale was also one of a handful of farms that were linked to a widespread salmonella outbreak in 2010, leading the owners to be charged with shipping adulterated food and sentenced to jail. Hillandale Farms put out a statement Tuesday saying it’s investigating the facility where the video and photos were shot, and blaming the worker who shot the video for the conditions of the facility. . .
Basically, corporations believe that they should be allowed to do whatever they want with no interference from anyone, and they fight to achieve this. They are totally uninterested in reform, in the public interest, in the well-being of their employees and their animals. They are interested only in increasing their profits.