Outlawing exposes of factory farm horrors


Big Ag has a big problem — but it’s come up with a neat solution.


The problem is that the meat, eggs and dairy that are marketed to us as “wholesome” foodstuffs by such giants as Tyson, Smithfield and Borden are actually produced in mammoth, mega-messy, monstrous factory farms. Known by the baleful industrial acronym CAFO, these Confined Animal Feeding Operations amount to animal concentration camps.

They cram thousands of cows, pigs, chickens and other pastoral creatures into torturously tiny cages enclosed in metal, prison-like buildings. The animals never see the light of day, they’re routinely dosed with antibiotics and growth hormones, and they are frequently ravaged by epidemic diseases. In turn, we human animals suffer from widespread salmonella, E. coli and other food contaminants that are an inevitable by-product of CAFO production, as well as suffering from the gross air and water pollution caused by the unbelievable mass of manure coming out of these animal factories.

It’s ugly in there, but such a reckless system produces big corporate profits, so they want to keep the uglies a secret from consumers. Problem is, in this age of watchdogs and whistleblowers with cellphone cameras and direct access to the public through YouTube, there’s been a spate of barf-inducing exposés. But, problem solved: Big Ag’s lawyers and lobbyists have simply coughed up a nasty legalistic hairball called the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.” Yes, it’s an “Ag-Gag” bill that criminalizes use of cameras to expose the horrors inside CAFOs and prosecutes participants as terrorists.

You’d think such a repressive act would gag a legislature, but Iowa, Missouri and Utah have already passed it, and at least 10 other states are considering it. To keep up and fight back, go to www.organicconsumers.org.

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This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.