Animal Legal Defense Fund Demands Industry Group Prove its Claims of Undercover Video Tampering
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a letter to the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) demanding that the industry group produce the evidence it claims to have that footage from undercover investigations of factory farms has been manipulated. On national media programs, AAA spokesperson Emily Meredith, in supporting controversial "ag gag" legislation, has claimed that animal advocates have manipulated undercover footage of abuses on factory farms. ALDF, which uses evidence of criminal animal abuse to aid law enforcement, opposes ag gag legislation, along with food safety, civil liberties, law enforcement, and other public interest groups.
A copy of ALDF’s letter to the Animal Agriculture Alliance follows.
April 30, 2013
Ms. Kay Johnson Smith, CEO and President
c/o Animal Agriculture Alliance
2101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 916-B
Arlington, VA 22201
Dear Ms. Johnson Smith,
I am writing to you from the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (aldf.org). Your spokesperson Emily Meredith has been touring various media outlets, discussing the recent spate of "ag gag" legislation which aims to criminalize whistleblowing and undercover investigations on factory farms. At ALDF, we rely on evidence of abuses unearthed by undercover investigations for much of our legal work for animals. As such, we are concerned about Ms. Meredith’s statements that the Animal Agriculture Alliance has "evidence" that undercover investigative footage has been tampered with by animal advocates.
On April 12, 2013, on the radio program "To the Point" (Public Radio International and KCRW Santa Monica), Ms. Meredith stated, with regards to this alleged manipulation of undercover footage:
- "we have documented evidence"
- "we have evidence that these videos have been manipulated"
- "they’re manipulating footage, they’re editing footage."
These are serious allegations. As you know, there are grave consequences at stake as jurisdictions consider ag gag legislation. These bills are intended to prevent consumers from ever seeing the horrors of animal abuse, illegal working conditions, and risky food safety practices that are common practice behind factory farm gates.
In addition to prompting federal investigations and food recalls, evidence obtained from undercover investigations is used by prosecutors and law enforcement to secure convictions in animal cruelty cases. That is why we are asking you to come forward immediately with the "evidence" the Animal Agriculture Alliance claims to have of tampering with footage taken by investigators on factory farms.
By making statements without providing evidence, you jeopardize the credibility of your organization. But you also mislead the public and defame investigators who go undercover to share the truths that industrial agriculture wants to keep hidden behind locked doors.
We ask that you immediately produce proof that documented footage of illegal animal cruelty–which has resulted in criminal convictions–has been doctored, manipulated, or staged. We all want to see it.
Stephen Wells, Executive Director
Animal Legal Defense Fund