States May Ban Undercover Animal Abuse Videos

Iowa, Florida, Minnesota want to make it illegal to produce them
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2011 8:09 AM CDT
This November 28, 2010 photo provided by The Humane Society of the United States, shows alleged abuse of female breeding pigs at a Virginia factory farm owned by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.   (AP Photo/The Humane Society of the United States)

(Newser) – You've seen the videos: Animal rights advocates go undercover as farm workers and emerge with grainy footage of beaten cows, viciously killed turkeys, and abused pigs. And Iowa—the country's largest pork and eggs producer—wants to keep you from seeing them. Its legislature is considering a bill that would make it illegal to produce, distribute, or even possess videos taken without a farm's permission. Lying on an application "with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner" of an agriculture facility would also be a crime. Florida and Minnesota are weighing similar bills.

Opponents says the undercover investigations have been effective at revealing animal abuse and food safety violations, and consider it a form of whistle-blowing that deserves protection. But proponents say the videos, which have led to meat recalls and slaughterhouse closings, can be misleading and unnecessarily damaging to the industry. The head of the Iowa Poultry Association adds that those who lie to get in could stage fake videos, sabotage equipment, or bring diseases onto farms, though he could point to no instances of that happening.

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