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March 12, 2012

The Humane Society of the United
States praised the Indiana legislature for holding fast and refusing to pass
S.B.184, a bill aimed at criminalizing whistleblowers who expose animal abuse,
unsafe working conditions, environmental destruction and other illegal and
unethical activities on farms.

S.B.184 would have criminalized
videographers who exposed harmful activity on factory farms while shielding
abusers from prosecution and keeping the public at arm’s length. The bill died
in committee when it was denied a hearing. Citizens had raised concerns over
the bill’s threats to First Amendment rights, food safety, animal welfare and
workers’ rights.

“Clearly the intent of this bill was
to protect animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers
and those who expose animal abuse on factory farms,” said Anne Sterling, Indiana
state director for The HSUS. “We urge lawmakers in states with similar bills
pending to follow Indiana’s lead and reject these dangerous bills.”

The agricultural industry has worked
to introduce similar ag-gag
bills
in states like Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee and
Utah. Recently, ag gag bills were rejected in Florida and Illinois, while in
Iowa, legislators passed such a measure  despite a strong outcry from the
public in favor of bringing more transparency to an industry notoriously
shrouded in secrecy.

Investigations have played a vital
role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues
related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation
of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif. resulted in the largest meat recall in
the nation’s history. The meat suppliers faced a $150 million lawsuit for
sending meat from sick and injured animals to the federal school lunch program
and the investigation revealed horrific animal abuse. 

 

Media Contact:

Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org,
240-751-2669

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Article source: HSUS

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