Ag-Gag Laws: Corporate Attempts to Keep Consumers in the Dark

Will Potter

Abstract


The only way we, as consumers, have begun to see behind the closed doors of factory farms is through the work of whistleblowers and undercover investigators. In recent years, the animal agriculture industry has been rocked by a series of exposés that have revealed the true story of our food. These investigations, led by non-profit animal protection organisations, have used photography and video cameras to document egregious acts of animal cruelty, along with standard industry practices. They have garnered international media coverage, prompted historic prosecutions, and most importantly, created a cultural shift in how consumers understand animal agriculture. Rather than condemn these abuses, change their policies, and respond to consumer demand, the agriculture industry has responded by attempting to shoot the messenger. The industry has labelled whistleblowers as “terrorists" and supported new laws to silence them. ‘Ag-gag’ laws — ‘ag’ is for ‘agriculture’, ‘gag’ is ‘to silence’ — are an explicit attempt that began in the United States to outlaw undercover investigations and whistleblowing if they negatively portray the industry. These proposals — introduced in 25 states, passed into law in six, and now spreading internationally, including Australia — eliminate the only meaningful oversight of this massive industry and allow it to continue operating without oversight or accountability.  The industry's efforts to restrict information in the United States has become an international model for corporate efforts to keep consumers in the dark.

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