States Consider So-Called 'Ag-Gag' Bills

Friday, March 01, 2013

Transcript

Since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle over a century ago, going undercover has been one of the only ways to expose malpractice in agricultural and meat processing facilities. But legislation, so-called ‘ag-gag’ bills, has either passed or is being considered in about a dozen states and would explicitly outlaw undercover reporting as well as the publication of material gathered by undercover reporting.  Brooke speaks with environmental journalist Will Potter about how these bills jeopardize the public’s health and right-to-know how their food is processed.

 

 

Wishmountain - Luzocade

Guests:

Will Potter

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [31]

I feel I was deprived of my education and life by hiding something that would have gave me decretcion and reason for an education as a child but no It was heeded from me for my own good so not to scare me but thy should have made me aware I wish I knew then what I know now I might have been able to make my voice worth more than just my word. at this time in my life. So what im saying is we need to be brutally honest with or children and make them aware of whats happening with are world of animals that day it may scare them but thy will thank us for being honest telling them the truth and for giving them a choice to learn what it takes to make a political change at a young age be know is when we need it tomorow might be to late. I know it would have gave me focus and a resin to want an education.

Mar. 27 2013 08:12 PM
A Voice For The Animals

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution codifies the freedom of speech as a constitutional right. The Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. The Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Reference: www.wikipedia.org

Mar. 10 2013 10:16 AM
Scott H Bullard from Lompoc, CA

This is the split in the rod that will define and govern Public morals and values on animals for or Sasiady by allow the unnecessary torcher and suffering of live stock and any other Industry used animals or in violacion of humane treatment for animals and always have bean and know that it has media recognition thy should be charged under the animal cruelty laws that wore in please to prevent animal torture, Animals Industry must be subject to rotated cruelty inspectors to enforce humane treatment Industry animals.

Mar. 10 2013 06:52 AM
VeganDave from Seattle WA

These bills are trying to stop people from showing what we all know happens every day on animal farms and in slaughterhouses - animals who are being exploited for their bodies are treated as nothing more than machines. You can cut through all the BS and simply remove your support from these exploitative industries! Not only will you save the lives and stop the suffering of animals, you will stop putting money into the pockets of people who promote these kinds of bills! GO VEGAN!

Request a FREE VEGAN STARTER pack from Action for Animals. Just web search "AFA Vegan Starter Pack" or go to VeganStarterPack [d0t] com

The pack includes vegan recipes; info on protein and nutrition; how you can help animals; eco-effects of meat, milk, & eggs; info on what vegans eat; and some free stickers!

Mar. 08 2013 09:15 PM
Sanpete from Utah

Lerxst, you illustrate very well why politics in this country is so polarized that people can't even understand each other, let alone get much done. Without knowing what the lawmakers would say, you've already concluded it isn't worth hearing. You compare them to terrorists. Hello?

Anyone else remember when liberals believed in being open-minded and fair, and admired impartiality? I think the success of Fox has induced many liberals to abandon their values and do what they think the other side is doing. How's that working for us?

OTM does its audience no favors by presenting only the side they're inclined to agree with. The result is a core following that only knows and cares about their own insular point of view and thinks that's a good thing.

Mar. 08 2013 05:17 PM
Sanpete from Utah

Lerxst, you illustrate very well why politics in this country is so polarized that people can't even understand each other, let alone get much done. Without knowing what the lawmakers would say, you've already concluded it isn't worth hearing. You compare them to terrorists. Hello?

Anyone else remember when liberals believed in being open-minded and fair, and admired impartiality? I think the success of Fox has induced many liberals to abandon their values and do what they think the other side is doing. How's that working for us?

OTM does its audience no favors by presenting only the side they're inclined to agree with. The result is a core following that only knows and cares about their own insular point of view and thinks that's a good thing.

Mar. 08 2013 05:17 PM
Lerxst from Utah

@Sanpete From one Utahian to another... The passage of the laws ARE their side of the story. When a terrorist group sets off a bomb on a city bus, do we care about their side of the story? When a gunman kills dozens of school children, do we care about their side of the story?

The ones crying for both sides of a story, are the ones who want to believe there actually are two sides to the story beyond the shallow facade one side presents. Does it even matter why laws are being passed/presented that will prohibit this kind of "muckraking" journalism/investigative reporting? The fact that they are, is already a violation of the Constitution.

Mar. 08 2013 09:45 AM

Please refrain from calling people you disagree with idiots. Subsequent personal attacks will be removed.

Thanks.

Mar. 06 2013 07:38 PM
Bek from New Jersey

This article is much needed for an under-exposed, and very serious, issue. Many people feel this is something that does not affect them- vegans, vegetarians- a lot of people who subscribe to that way of eating mistakenly think this kind of ruling only effects meat inspection and meat related situations. They could not be further from the truth. This has to do with the right to know if your vegetables, your fruits, your eggs, your dairy products, and your meat products have been genetically modified, have been made or exposed to hazardous elements, conditions, and facilities.
This will keep people from being able to record if animals are treated humanely before slaughter. This is NOT about whether you choose to eat meat or not- or about whether you agree with killing animals. This has to do with the fact these things do happen- animals are raised for consumption- and since this is something that is not going away any time soon- we should be able to make sure for at least that part of their life- they are comfortable and treated fairly.
This is about knowing if your milk, dairy, and egg products are coming from animals that are in sanitary conditions. It's about knowing if there are any additives being forced into the animals to make their "products" larger "better" tasting, etc.
This is about knowing if your fruits and vegetables are being harvested by people living in sub-human conditions or who are not being treated according to the law- migrant or otherwise. It's about knowing if it was grown on a tree or in a lab- and what kinds of pesticides and chemicals it has come into contact with- about what kind of ground it is being grown on.
These laws EFFECT US ALL- and I applaud this publication for bringing it to the public attention. Now we need to get people becoming knowledgeable about how the pertains to each and every one of us- and making a stand to ensure that these "Ag Gag" laws DO NOT get passed.

Mar. 06 2013 12:32 PM
Ron Charles from Washington, DC

Thanks for another great show -- and for highlighting this truly bizarre assault on free speech (and decency).

Mar. 06 2013 09:52 AM
Becky thatcher

Thank you for covering this topic. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This sounds like a free speech issue, and could potentially criminalize someone sharing an image of children with a cow in the background .

What are the industrial farmers really concerned about? I would hope they have nothing to hide, and welcome people's interest in knowing where their food comes from .

Laws like this should make us all stop and think.........

Mar. 05 2013 03:43 PM
Sanpete from Utah

Angela, if you're going to accuse others of idiocy, you should read more carefully yourself. Even better, just leave out the name-calling.

First, what I actually said was that if there was some reason to present only one side, and so eagerly, it should have been explained. It wasn't. Listeners have a right to know why there's an appearance of bias. It promotes trust to keep it clear.

Second, I said nothing about getting industry reps on the show. It was laws and pending bills that were being criticized, and it was the lawmakers who should have been on the show to respond. If OTM contacted lawmakers in state after state and just couldn't find any to comment, then see the first point. I rather doubt they bothered, since there certainly are lawmakers commenting about this in the press.

It's fundamentally poor journalism, and contrary to widely accepted journalistic ethics including the NPR ethics code, to present only one side in a case like this. I remember when liberals used to understand that and embraced fairness and impartiality as virtues. That's less and less true. The change correlates with the increase in ideological polarization.

Mar. 05 2013 01:36 PM
Angela Smitherman from Maryland

The idiocy of posters below such as Dr. Hail and Nancy is mind-boggling. Yes, sure, the abuse HSUS documented started the instant they showed up at the slaughterhouse in question. No, actually it didn't....it had been going on already for years, decades. What possible reason is there to suppose that it HADN'T been? That these posters would lament that the videos weren't released for a mere five months is completely hypocritical. HSUS is to thank, profusely, for bringing the abuses to light because neither Hallmark nor the USDA was ever going to do so. And Dr. Hail has the utter gall to blame HSUS for any deaths/illnesses that may have occurred in Hallmark's facilities. Simply laughable.

As for Sanpete, I'd like to see you get representatives from places like Hallmark to be brave enough to go on NPR. See if you can talk them into it, Sanpete. Let me know how you make out.

Mar. 05 2013 11:37 AM
Dr.Hail

The problem with these animal rights cult members who make these undercover videos is that their motives are not directed toward public health or animal welfare. They use these videos to elicit donations and thus are designed to be held and edited to elicit the most money donated to their organizations. What everyone seems to ignore about the Hallmark beef recall, the "largest ever" at something like 140 million pounds, and prominently featured in this report, is that HSUS did not release their video for several months after it was shot. Had the video been made available to USDA within, say, a week of being shot, the recall would have been much smaller and less scandalous. Its very clear that HSUS does not care about your children's health and safety or your family's health. They are out for the money and only the money. They are the greedy ones seeking maximum publicity thus more money despite the fact that their 6 month delay may have killed someone's child or mother.

Mar. 05 2013 06:11 AM
Catherine Mitchell from North Carolina

Thank you NPR for running this piece. I was unaware of this upcoming bill in my state, much less the "movement" across the country to dismantle any attempt at free speech regarding health and safety of food sources in favor of profit of corporations, but I intend to be very vocal about it. Let's face it. As much as this "attack" has been branded otherwise, it's about free speech and a citizen's right to know. Freedom of the press is non-negotiable in a free society. Lumping journalists with terrorists simply because they are trying to get to the truth of the matter is not only a serious flag, but certainly a true threat to any kind of civilized society. I've been trying to work through the maze of food labeling and safety for a while now and I am stunned at the level of ambivalence from our regulatory authorities, and especially at the outright scorn at many local, state and federal levels (not all) at any attempt to protect the American people now. Food safety is critical to the health and well being of our citizenry. Labeling and transparency in this process is crucial to that goal. What have we become? What do we want to be? This is happening behind the scenes, as life with news/entertainment focus progresses. Haven't heard about this anywhere else. Network news, print journalism - where are you? Already dead? Why is this not your story?

Mar. 04 2013 11:58 PM
Essena from Canada

It is obvious that this is all about protecting the "animal enterprises" so they can continue to use and abuse animals. There time will be up soon, because the next step is for animals to have rights, and it is an idea whose time has come.

Mar. 04 2013 02:23 PM
Just the Facts

If whistle blowers were truly sincere about stopping cruelty, they should immediately turn in any evidence to stop it. But that isn't what has happened. They are, in effect, encouraging, aiding and abetting that cruelty. These bills that would require reporting animal cruelty within 24/48 hours protects the animals. It would seem that opposing the law would be contraindicated for animal protection.

Mar. 04 2013 12:19 PM

Nancy:
Please cite even one of these "court cases" where it was found that the footage was doctored or staged, as you claim.
This has never happened. Moreover, the opposite has been true: this footage just led to more criminal convictions in North Carolina:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/butterball-animal-cruelty_n_2758472.html

Mar. 04 2013 11:02 AM
Ellen from Texas

if those 'undercover videos' were released immediately after making them, I could, in a small way, understand. however, most (if not all) videos appear to have been held for at least several weeks and possibly months. to me this proves disinterest in stopping animal abuse while editing the videos to show a horror show of mass proportions. many of the so called abuse was done by hired 'hands' for the sole purpose of abusing the animals and showing it as a given that 'all' livestock handlers do this.

common sense alone would advise that the people who raise animals for meat/dairy/eggs and such would want the animals cared for properly in order to maximize profit. and 'profit' is NOT a dirty word!

Mar. 04 2013 10:59 AM
Nancy from Iowa

I agree with Sanpete from Utah. This was a very one-sided interview and story line. I live in a state that has passed one of these farm protection bills into law. What the law DOESN'T do is stop animal cruelty from being reported and dealt with legally. What it DOES do is stop FALSE charges from being filed. In many of these so-called undercover investigations it was found in court, after the entire unedited videos were viewed by authorities that the 'videographers' had paid people to get those jobs and mistreat animals just for the purpose of getting those videos. In 99% of the videos, the groups behind them were SO worried about the animals that they sat on the videos for several months without notifying the authorities or the farm owners that the alleged abuse was taking place. Imagine how much smaller that California recall would have been if that video had been turned over to the authorities SEVERAL MONTHS earlier. THAT is how much HSUS cares about the animals and our children! They spent 3 months getting the footage and sat on that evidence for 5 more months before releasing edited footage to the media and had to be ordered to turn it over to authorities. They KNEW it was going on and yet did NOTHING for 5 months, allowing the abuse to go on and that meat to continue being shipped to schools.

Mar. 04 2013 10:28 AM
Kathryn Baker

These ag gag bills must not pass...they will stop the anti cruelty warriors from protecting animals and exposing cruelty.

Mar. 04 2013 07:56 AM
Willie G from nyc,ny

Go to thecopyrightzone.com a blog written by attorney Ed Greenberg and Photographer Jack Reznicki. They write and lecture on photo issues and rights.

Their article alerts photographers who may be oblivious to these laws. The article is entitled "Ag-Gags for Carnivores,Vegetarians, Vegans and Photographers". Photographers who should know about these efforts apparently don't. Scary.

Mar. 03 2013 09:14 PM
gillian lauder

In this day and age why are any animals suffering for human consumpton.If farmers , slaughter houses meat plants had nothing to hide they would welcome camera's .....after all most other businesses would welcome the free coverage and exposure.
At the end of the day we have to be more compassionate towards the treatment of animals , and farmers who rely on making their living from these animals should treat them with respect. I choose not to eat animals at all, because I have the upmost repect for their lives.

Mar. 03 2013 04:56 PM
Maria

this 'ag-gag' bill will utimatly affect human health, not even taking into account considerations such as ethics and free speech. Putting profits above ethics is wront at all levels. This policy is a perfect exaple of corporate corruption of government. Public interest and public discurse should be open in a free democratic society. By allowing corporate abuses for the sake of profit we are doing a diservice to humanity. Ag-GAG is the opposite of progress and is the most clear example of a fascists system.

Mar. 03 2013 04:49 PM
Maria

this 'ag-gag' bill will utimatly affect human health, not even taking into account considerations such as ethics and free speech. Putting profits above ethics is wront at all levels. This policy is a perfect exaple of corporate corruption of government. Public interest and public discurse should be open in a free democratic society. By allowing corporate abuses for the sake of profit we are doing a diservice to humanity. Ag-GAG is the opposite of progress and is the most clear example of a fascists system.

Mar. 03 2013 04:49 PM
Laura Slitt

Better yet, we should be examining the deepest, oldest roots of our engrained cultural violence as it traces back thousands of years to the advent of herding behaviors. Considering there is absolutely no requirement for flesh in one's diet, and the global consequences of this system are dire, let us look at the mind set that enables sentient beings to be nothing more than commodities, in this giant machine that we, even as humans, are numbers. Let us look back to the practices of animal "domestications," a euphamism for enslaved for human benefit, so we can understand that every barbaric and violent behavior in human societies, has roots in learning it ALL from our practices and treatment of animals. ALL farmed animals were wild before we forced them into our perverted interpretation of "Dominion."
In my library are three books that DO examine deeply, the far reaching tentacles of violence, as far back as the fertile crescent, when gathering and some( much less then we are told ) hunting turned into herding.

Every practice of capturing and enslaving wild animals, neutering, dominating, was quickly used by human against human. The Sumarians castrated their slaves, as well as their "livestock."
Read The World Peace Diet, Eternal Treblinka, Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, and An Unnatural Order, Why We Humans Are Destroying Ourselves and the Planet.
Jesus was killed for threatening the power structure when he tossed the money changers out of the Temple and was disgusted at the animal sacrifices going on. Today, it is animal rights advocates whom are the threats, as we threaten the "culture of death," the machine that looks at life, nature, animals, as numbers.

Mar. 03 2013 03:33 PM
Alan DeRossett from CA,US

This is a 1st amendment issue. There are plenty of places offshore to publish if some of the neo right want to restrict free speech. Publish from India even as an anonymous source. States that do this will lose Jobs.

Mar. 03 2013 03:03 PM
Michele Mooney from Los Angeles

Both sides use "Food Safety" as a crutch . The reps. of the Agri-businesses are concerned about profits, the whistle-blowers want abuses against animals banned. Period.

Mar. 03 2013 02:51 PM
Sanpete from Utah

Shouldn't a show about journalism be extra clear about its own journalistic ethics? What's the rationale for failing to follow basic journalistic ethics, as laid out in the NPR ethics code, by leaving out any response from the lawmakers whose work was criticized? The entire piece was advocacy for a particular point of view assisted by an entirely sympathetic interviewer. If there was some reason to present only one side, and so eagerly, it should have been explained.

It seems to me Brooke Gladstone can't quite decide if she should be Audie Cornish or Amy Goodman. While she's working that out, her bias keeps coming out in the open, adding weight to the reasons conservatives have to distrust NPR, which (with help from other openly liberal hosts on NPR) tends to drive them to even more polarizing outlets like Fox. We need media that reduces the segregation of news and information by ideology, not increases it. Fairness and impartiality matter not only in getting it right, but in building and keeping trust with a diverse audience.

Mar. 03 2013 01:41 PM
CM

I'm blown away by how big Agra has appropriated the discourse around "food security" in this legislation to protect itself from criticism (when food security and sustainability are actually better served by greater transparency). The law purports to protect factory farms from domestic terrorism, and thus protect the food supply, when it is actually about increasing the veil of secrecy around the brutal and unsustainable methods of industrial food production.

As always, excellent work, folks.

Mar. 03 2013 09:00 AM
marty siegrist

Clicked on this to read the transcript of the piece on Ag-Gag bills, instead found a redux of the DNA collection segment.

Mar. 02 2013 07:39 AM

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