Legally Brief: Undercover Investigations & Ag Gag BillsPosted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on May 13, 2013
Great news for animals! Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will veto a controversial ag gag bill that has received national public outcry. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been alerting the public about ag gag laws from the beginning, with tremendous support from ALDF members who urged Governor Haslam to veto the bill. Last week, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper called the ag gag bill “constitutionally suspect” and charged that it would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ALDF applauds Governor Haslam and Bob Cooper for protecting the public from a law ultimately aimed to silence whistleblowers and protect animal abusers. Ag gag bills like these decimate undercover investigations on factory farms by banning photo and video evidence used to build fully-developed animal cruelty cases. This is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently demanded that the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) prove its claims to have evidence of investigative tampering. These bold and unsubstantiated claims mislead the public and unfairly defame the work of investigators.
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Undercover investigations are central to building cases against animal abusers–and those who profit from the exploitation of animals. This week, ABC 7 news exposed its undercover investigation of California restaurants who continue to violate the state ban on the sale and production of force-fed foie gras (diseased duck and goose liver). Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney John Melia sat down with investigative reporter Dan Noyes and the ABC 7 I-team to discuss ALDF’s lawsuit against a Napa restaurant for flagrantly violating the state law. ABC’s report alludes to the ongoing problems of animal cruelty at Hudson Valley Foie Gras–a foie gras producer involved in ALDF’s false advertising lawsuit. The exposé aired May 6th and reveals the inherent cruelty in the force-feeding process, as backed up by numerous independent avian pathologists.
In other news, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally agreed to address the issue of deceptive egg labeling, and consider the petition filed by ALDF and Compassion over Killing. The petition asks the FDA to mandate the full disclosure of egg production methods–“eggs from caged hens,” “cage-free,” and “free-range”–so that consumers know what they’re buying (or avoiding) and producers can’t make premium profits off deceptively cruel foods (an issue first raised in 2006). We’re delighted the FDA has decided to pay attention to the growing public demand for transparency.