Investigate a Factory Farm, Go to Jail Forever
States are considering laws that would make it an act of terrorism to report on abuses at factory farms. And you do know that under the new National Defense Authorization Act, the President of the United States now has the power to hold any U.S. citizen in indefinite detention without trial or due process of law for as long as he deems appropriate, right? So this means that if you practice investigative journalism on a factory farm, you can legally be tossed into Guantanamo and kept there forever. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Here’s an excerpt from an article written on AlterNet in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org
“How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an ‘act of terrorism’ for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety, or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.
“And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws aimed at preventing employees, journalists or activists from exposing illegal or unethical practices on factory farms. Lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012. The laws passed in three of those states: Missouri, Iowa and Utah. But consumer and animal-welfare activists prevented the laws from passing in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.
“In all, six states now have Ag-Gag laws, including North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, all of which passed the laws in 1990-1991, before the term “Ag-Gag” was coined.
“Most of the Ag-Gag laws introduced since 2011 borrow the premise, if not the exact language, from model legislation designed by ALEC. ALEC’s sole purpose is to write model legislation that protects corporate profits. Industry then pushes state legislators to adapt the bills for their states and push them through. The idea behind the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act is to make it illegal to ‘enter an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other or other means with the intent to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner.’
“In other words, these laws turn journalists and the investigators of crimes into criminals.
“ALEC’s interest in large-scale factory farm operations, or in industry-speak, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), can be traced to one of its staunchest members, Koch Industries. Koch Industries once owned the Koch Beef Company, one of the largest cattle feeders in the U.S. When neighbors of one of the company’s huge cattle-feeding operations opposed a planned expansion, claiming it would pose health concerns, Koch persuaded local legislators to rule in its favor. ALEC subsequently wrote the ‘Right to Farm Act,’ a bill to bar lawsuits by citizens claiming that neighboring farms, including industrial farms, are fouling their air and water.”
Evidence is building for implicating factory farming as a contributing factor in global warming, while organic farming, by sequestering carbon in the soil in the form of compost, does just the opposite. That’s the conclusion that Ronnie Cummins of Ecowatch draws from his research. It shows that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.
“Today,” he writes, “nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs. These animals are literally imprisoned and tortured in unhealthy, unsanitary and unconscionably cruel conditions. Sickness is the norm for animals who are confined rather than pastured, and who eat GMO corn and soybeans, rather than grass and forage as nature intended. To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics. Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to the environment when they run off into our lakes, rivers, aquifers and drinking water.
“CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America’s most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.
“Indirectly, factory farms contribute to climate disruption by their impact on deforestation and draining of wetlands, and because of the nitrous oxide emissions from huge amounts of pesticides used to grow the genetically engineered corn and soy fed to animals raised in CAFOs. Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane – 200 times more damaging per ton than CO2. And just as animal waste leaches antibiotics and hormones into ground and water, pesticides and fertilizers also eventually find their way into our waterways, further damaging the environment,” Cummins says.
European food safety regulators have discovered a hidden viral gene in genetically modified crops, especially Round-Up Ready Soy and Monsanto’s pesticide-producing corn, that disable the immune system against viruses in both plants and animals. I know—I also thought: “What? How can this be?” Well, it is true, and you can read all about it here:
Government action to ban arsenic in pesticides will be put on hold for at least three years, according to Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The long delay comes after the Environmental Protection Agency was directed by Congress to stop work on its prior cancer risk assessment of arsenic after several years of research. The reason for the delay is to further assess the risk of arsenic to human health, especially to its role as a carcinogen.
“We are concerned that the EPA has been directed by Congress to halt all new regulatory steps to protect public health while this new risk assessment is under way,” stated Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union.
Consumers Union is particularly concerned with an October 1, 2012, memo posted on the chemical industry’s Organic Arsenical Products Task Force website that states that the companies can continue to sell an arsenical pesticide, MSMA, used on golf courses, sod farms, and highway rights of way “for three to four years until the scientific review is completed.” The memo further states that that the chemical industry group “fully expects the NAS review to result in a less stringent risk value for human exposure to inorganic arsenic.”
“It is highly concerning that the pesticide manufacturers believe they already know the outcome of this new scientific review. The scientific questions are important, but we already know enough about the cancer risks, and other toxic properties of arsenic for regulators to take action now. EPA should end all remaining uses of the arsenic-containing pesticide MSMA. We need the government to issue standards for arsenic in rice and apple juice and to end all uses of arsenic in drugs given to food animals,” Hansen added.