Strange Global Mirror: What is your free speech worth?





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Published on Nov 10, 2009


Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
By Marion Nestle
Agribusiness Seeks to Stifle Speech
by Ronald K. L. Collins
Multinational Monitor magazine , May 1998

The Ethics of Eathing

Project Earth
Richard Lobb - National Chicken Council
We can grow chickens twice as big in half the time but their bones and internal organs can't keep up the the rapid growth. They can't walk, and they get sick easier, so antibiotics are put in their feed. Even sick chickens go to the plant for processing. The farmers end up as slaves to the corporations which insist on barn upgrades. Farmers typically borrow over half a million to start off, and make about $18,000/year for their efforts.

Michael Pollan - Omnivore's Dilemma
We have an illusion of diversity, but only a few companies and only a few products are produced. A huge number of products are filled with corn. Corn is subsidized by the government, so producers find ways to get it into everything to make food cheaper. It's a commodity crop because it can be stored and engineered.

Larry Johnson - Center for Crop Utilization Research
High-fructose corn syrup and soya is in 90% of products including feed for cows, pigs, chickens and fish. Cheap corn means cheap feed and cheap meat. But it also means a sub-standard product.

CAFO - Concentrated Animal Feed Operation
Cows shouldn't be eating corn. They should eat grass. I wrote about that a bit more here in which it's suggested that eating grass-fed cows can even help you lose weight. High corn diets in cows lead to e-coli that are antibiotic resistant. Cows stand in manure all day, and the manure gets in the meat.

Food-Disparagement Laws:
State Civil & Criminal Statutes


"Veggie-Libel" Law Still Poses a Threat
Ronald K.L. Collins & Paul McMasters
The food-disparagement statutes in the 13 states represent "a legislative attempt to insulate an economic sector from criticism." David J. Bederman et al, 34 Harv. J. Leg. 135, 168 (1997). In Colorado, such insulation comes by way of a criminal law (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. ยง35-31-101) designed to punish those citizen-activists guilty of mouthing falsehoods about farm products. Imagine what any of these laws, let alone the Colorado one, could mean to those who distribute food safety newsletters in these states or who post food criticisms on the Internet.

Regarding Veggie Libel Statutes
Here are some real examples. A landfill owner sued a Texas woman for $5 million for calling his operation a dump. An incinerator builder sued a high school teacher in Missouri for $6.6 million for writing an anti-incinerator letter to the editor. Canada's two huge logging companies, MacMillan Bloedel and Fletcher Challenge have sued hundreds of citizens, communities and environmental groups for saying bad things about clearcutting. Monsanto, maker of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), sued several small Midwest dairies for advertising that their milk is BGH-free. McDonalds sued two British activists for putting out a pamphlet claiming that Big Macs are unhealthy and harmful to the environment.

Random blog:
Now, as a grower I have to say that I do want protection against some rival at the farmers' market spreading unfounded rumors that my carrots aren't really organic. And as a writer, I think it's good that people can sue me if I publish false information that hurts them. But we already have means to protect ourselves against such problems. We don't need new laws that can be used by organizations with deep pockets and the ability to deduct legal expenses as a cost of doing business to intimidate individuals or organizations that voice legitimate concerns.


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