Unbelievable Ways Companies Are Trying to Keep You From Seeing Where Your Meat Comes From
Photo Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Amy Meyer wanted to see for herself where her food was coming from. But in the state of Utah, she discovered, that was against the law.
On February 8, Meyer drove to Dale Smith Meatpacking Company in Draper City, Utah, and took a look from the side of the road. She gasped as she peered through the barbed wire fence and saw what appeared to be a sick cow being treated like rubble as it was carried in a tractor. So she did what many people would do in this day and age. She got out her smartphone to begin recording.
For this, Meyer was arrested and prosecuted under Utah's new "ag-gag" law.
It turns out that similar laws are now in place not just in Utah, but also in Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri. And many other states are considering similar legislation.
The goal of these laws, it would appear, is to keep consumers from seeing where modern meat really comes from. Considering that 94 percent of the American public believes that animals raised for food should be free from abuse and cruelty, the modern meat industry has some good reasons to fear the public finding out that Old MacDonald's farm isn't so happy these days.
Charges against Meyer were subsequently dropped, but Utah's law is still on the books. And now Amy Meyer is joining with award-winning author Will Potter and a team of organizations in filing a lawsuit challenging her state's controversial law in the courts.
Soon thereafter, in Kansas on June 28th, a photographer working for a publication not generally seen as promoting a radical agenda, National Geographic, was arrested and briefly jailed after taking aerial pictures of a feedlot for a series on food issues to be published some time next year.
George Steinmetz has taken award-winning photos in many dangerous situations, including a series depicting post-Gaddafi Libya. But it was his photographs of U.S. feedlots, taken from a paraglider in an area with hundreds of thousands of cattle, that got him put behind bars.
Kansas has its own "ag-gag bill," called the " Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act." This law makes it illegal to "enter an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means."
Apparently, the feedlot executives may have considered paragliding to be a form of illegal entry, and they wanted Steinmetz to feel the force of the law. Industry officials said they believe his actions represent a " food security issue." Steinmetz had also parked and taken off from private property, so "trespassing" is central to the charge he now faces. But do you really think he'd have been arrested for parking there had he merely stopped to read a book?
The spread of ag-gag bills is alarming for many reasons. Aside from exposing specific incidents of animal abuse, undercover videos have also drawn attention to industry practices such as housing chickens in cramped battery cages that hasten the sickening of birds and the spread of salmonella.
Elizabeth Holmes, an attorney with the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, comments: "The reason these are public health issues, and not just animal rights issues, is that those unsanitary conditions provide breeding grounds (for disease)."
Holmes has a point. Keeping animals alive in wretched conditions requires the use of massive amounts of pharmaceutical drugs. Nearly 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to animals, not people. The antibiotic overuse that allows meat producers to keep animals in filth and misery is spawning drug-resistant superbugs.