Animal rights activists fighting “Ag-Gag” laws

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"Ag-gag," or "agricultural gag" laws, as they are nicknamed, are proposed ways of making it illegal for whistleblowers to observe and report acts of animal abuse at slaughterhouses and factory farms throughout the U.S. - essentially depriving the public of their right to know about such torture. Now, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is fighting back.

The ALDF is a non-profit organization focusing on the interests of animals in legal matters.

Forms of torture such as skinning calves alive, forcing badly injured animals (sometimes incapable of walking) into a slaughter line, and other horrendous acts are only made public because undercover activists document them (by reporting, taking videos, etc). Under ag-gag laws, that would no longer be possible.

In opposition to such a threat, the ALDF has proposed potential legislation of its own, called the "Safeguarding the Public from Food-Borne Illnesses Act." Such a law would attempt to ensure that "your state government and counties will stop purchasing potentially unsafe food products from any jurisdiction with an ag-gag law."

Several states have already implemented so-called ag-gags. Criminal codes in Iowa and Utah threaten jail time for anyone caught taking undercover photos or videos (without explicit approval) in slaughterhouses and farming facilities. In North Dakota, such undercover activity is prohibited altogether. Kansas and Montana have similar laws in place.

ALDF has currently established a petition, and is actively utilizing social networks to inform and organize activists.

Cody Carlson, a former investigator for the Humane Society of the United States, remarked, "The ag-gag laws pretend to be about preventing fraud, but they actually perpetuate it. They protect a system where consumers are regularly deceived into supporting egregious animal suffering, deplorable working conditions, and environmental degradation."

Photo: Animals such as these are frequently subjected to torturous conditions, which are impossible to expose without the ability of animal rights activists to conduct undercover documentation. The Humane Society of the United States/AP Photos