Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Ag Rules, Meet the Farmarazzi

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety page, Iowa News page, Farm Issues page, and our Disturbing Facts on Factory Farming & Food Safety page.


As children, my brothers and I enjoyed a level of freedom that might make a modern parent gasp, and sometimes we exercised that freedom in the kitchen, where we fed one another weird concoctions that tended toward the un-healthy: spoons full of sugar mixed with water to make our specialty, 'shwater,' whole bouillon cubes added to already salty ramen, you get the picture.

The only time I ever refused to sample my brothers' culinary creations was when asked to close my eyes during its preparation. I may have been a child, and one with a sense of humor, but I wasn't an idiot.

So, proposed legislation in three states - Iowa, Minnesota and Florida - that would criminalize the filming, photography or audio recording of farms (the general assumption seems to be that the bills are meant to protect CAFOs - concentrated animal feeding operations, also referred to as factory farms -  but could apply to any farm of any nature) raised a major red flag to me, and to others who follow and write about such issues. People you'd expect to raise a protest, like Humane Society's Wayne Pacelle and Animal Welfare Approved director Andrew Guenther have done so, but mainstream media, especially the New York Times, has also done a great job, with this pointed op-ed and Mark Bittman's excellent "Who Protects the Animals?" (in which he coins the phrase "ag-gag").

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