Editorial: Concealing Cruelty

Publication: The Chicago Tribune

04/22/2011 - Ever been curious about how the egg industry operates? You're welcome to take a virtual tour of an Iowa egg plant run by Rose Acre Farms. You can see photos of laying hens — and even dead ones crammed into wire cages — as a worker talks about birds being maimed or killed.

Why would Rose Acre Farms want to give you this unappetizing glimpse? Actually, it wouldn't. The images came from a Humane Society staffer who got a job at the plant to document the apparently inhumane conditions. If some state legislators get their way, what that employee did will soon become a crime in Iowa, as it is in Kansas and Montana.

Just for giving the public a glimpse of how its food is made, you could spend five years in prison. Iowa Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat, says the law is needed to "make producers feel more comfortable." He told The New York Times, "Our economy would be in the tank, big time, if it wasn't for agriculture."

But no one is trying to stamp out agriculture, in Iowa or anywhere else. And though the Humane Society might like to close down all factory farms, that prospect is unlikely as well. The function of such exposes is merely to let the public know when things are happening that citizens might not approve of — and possibly to embarrass companies into treating their animals better.


Read the editorial Concealing Cruelty in full on The Chicago Tribune's Web site.

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