Ag-Gag laws keep horrors of meat packing industries hidden from consumers

Abbey Lim, Editor-in-Chief

The human body is systematically engineered to eat meat, and that is a simple fact. From the way our bodies process proteins found within an array of animal foodstuffs, to the way our teeth are shaped in order to allow us to tear into flesh, humans are by all means, physically arranged to consume meat.

While this evidence refuses to waver,  does the pleasure humans derive from eating animals truly justify the immense suffering inflicted upon those animals as a result?

On today’s factory farms, animals are typically crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates and placed in generally inhumane conditions. The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs, always at the expense of the animals.

Giant corporations that run most factory farms have found that they can make more money by squeezing as many animals as possible into tiny spaces, even though many of the animals die from disease or infection which could have otherwise been prevented.

Thanks to documentaries such as Food Inc., as well as investigations conducted by PETA and Mercy For Animals, many consumers today have become more aware of these harsh conditions that animals are subjected to in order to put meat on their plates.

Unfortunately, despite this knowledge, little improvement has been made within these industries. Rather than working to improve these conditions or attempting to making food safer for consumers, the meat industry has responded to these revelations largely by lobbying for laws known as “Ag–Gag” to prohibit public knowledge.

These laws are designed to keep consumers in the dark about where their food comes from and how farmed animals are treated by making it a crime to document the conditions at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Not only are these laws designed to keep consumers unaware and the meat industries peaking,  they are perpetually adding to the struggle of animals placed within these conditions.

Year after year, instead of working to prevent and prosecute cruelty to animals, pro–factory farming legislators, under the influence of powerful corporate agricultural lobbyist, attempt to silence individuals who seek to expose and stop animal cruelty. Their shameful efforts aim to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and punish those who dare to blow the whistle on cruel and corrupt practices within our food system.

Ag–Gag laws don’t just harm animals, they also represent an attack on our fundamental constitutional rights, including our freedom of speech. Ag–Gag laws prevent public exposure of widespread animal cruelty, risky food production practices, environmental degradation and hazardous working conditions at factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Today, more than ever, undercover investigations play a crucial role in our society by helping expose criminal activity and hold factory farms accountable. With no federal laws protecting animals from cruelty on factory farms— and no state or federal agency tasked with inspecting these facilities— so called “whistleblowers” are often the loudest advocates against criminal, dangerous and inhumane practices.

There is no universal solution to animal cruelty or resistance against Ag–Gag, but as everyday consumers, the best thing that can be done to fight against these practices is to be aware. Be on the look out for how your foods are labeled and which companies, such as Maple Lodge Farms, Wayne Farms and Seaboard Foods, they are marketed by. By doing this, all consumers can actively fight against Ag–Gag laws and work to keep everyone aware of where their food is coming from.