Eric Schlosser, the author of the landmark book Fast Food Nation, held a Q&A at the Washington Post website. It’s definitely worth reading, but the first question jumped off the screen.
Q. No-Filming Laws:
What is your opinion on these proposed laws that will outlaw filming on farms by activists in several states. Do you think it’s possible for them to be passed? What will the repercussion be?
A. Eric Schlosser:
I think they are one more effort by the food industry to keep American consumers in the dark about what they’re eating. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them do pass. But I don’t think they will succeed at maintaining ignorance about our food system. The cat is out of the bag.
Wait. What? Sure enough, this is very real:
Several lawmakers in the U.S. state that produces the most pork and eggs — Iowa — are looking to make undercover videos purporting to reveal abuses on farms illegal. The state’s legislature is considering a bill that would ban the filming, distribution, and possession of videos unless a farm gives express permission.
Anyone who takes video with an “intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner” would be deemed a criminal under the law that is similar to legislation being considered elsewhere in the country, including Minnesota and Florida.
I have problems with the undercover videos insofar as I don’t believe they work — mainly because, even though I’m a strong supporter of animal rights, I avoid those videos like the goddamn plague. They’re really awful and disgusting and I only have so much room in my brain for awful things. That being said, the videos should never be criminalized. It’s a clear-cut trespass against freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and yet another way in which food companies, factory farms and Big Agriculture can get away with dangerous, deadly business practices.