There are 13 states in the USA which currently have passed anti-free
anti-activist food slander laws:
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan
(passed just last week), Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota,
"Food Slander" Is Now a Crime
by Gar Smith
On August 17, a group of activists dumped a mixture of Diet Coke, NutraSweet (aspartame) and rBGH-enhanced milk (produced from cows injected with genetically engineered hormones) onto the pavement at Atlanta's Cheshire Bridge Shopping Center.
The demonstration, sponsored by the Pure Foods Campaign (PFC), took its inspiration from the Boston Tea Party. But while dumping tea was considered a patriotic act in Boston Harbor, dumping soda, sweetener and milk is considered a crime in Georgia.
"Food slander" laws, in force in Georgia and at least ten other states, make it a civil crime to denigrate or criticize food products without a "scientific basis," explained PFC coordinator Ronnie Cummings. "Industry lobbyists admit that these laws are probably unconstitutional... their real purpose is to intimidate activists and concerned consumers."
Emory Law School professor David Bederman joined the PFC protest and explained to reporters how "food disparagement" laws were ultimately intended to scare not only citizens, but the media as well.
In Georgia, South Dakota, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Colorado and Louisiana it is now against the law to publicly criticize corporate food products under so-called "food disparagement" laws promoted by agriculture, chemical and biotechnology industry lobbyists. Similar laws are under consideration in Ohio and Illinois. "These laws are intended to curtail the right to free speech, to make it illegal to hand out leaflets or to dump rBGH milk in the gutter," Cummings charged.
PFC claims that Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler "lied to Congress" when he assured legislators that bovine somatrotropin (BST), the genetically engineered growth hormone, was destroyed by pasteurization. Kessler's assurance, which spared Monsanto (BST's manufacturer) the expense of any further research, was based on a scientific paper written by Paul Groenewegen, a graduate student from Guelph, Canada. According to PFC, Groenewegen was "outraged" to learn that the FDA had misrepresented his research. Far from destroying BST, Groenewegen's research showed that subjecting BST to pasteurization temperatures 120 times normal only destroyed 19 percent of the BST in milk. PFC also charges that the FDA will not release research that "proves that lab animals got cancer from BST," despite numerous Freedom of Information Act requests.
Monsanto's claim that BST is "identical" to natural hormones is also fraudulent, PFC contends, since BST replaces the naturally occurring amino acid lysine with epsilon-N-acetyl-lysine. While this may not sound significant, it is known that the alteration of a single amino acid can trigger sickle cell anemia or predispose some people to Alzheimer's disease.
While rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada, and has been boycotted by 95 percent of US dairy farmers, the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture continue to license the drug (and other new genetically engineered foods) without pre-market safety tests. Thanks to industry pressure, genetically engineered foods are not required to carry identifying labels.
"Instead of giving us affordable, healthy, natural, clean food -- safety-tested and clearly labeled to enable consumers to exercise free choice -- the powers-that-be seem intent upon taking away our right to know what's been done to our food," Cummings stated. "Government and corporation hacks use 'risk assessment' and 'cost accounting' to tell us it's 'too expensive' to clean up food-industry practices, even as the Centers for Disease Control admit that 20-80 million people a year get food poisoning."
Fall 1995 issue of Earth Island Journal on the Food Slander laws.