Like the tobacco industry before it, the meat, egg, and dairy industries have twisted science to justify certain indefensible practices. Case in point: Proposition 2 in California, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which won by a landslide victory in 2008 to phase out some of the cruelest instruments of extreme confinement: veal crates for baby calves, gestation crates for breeding pigs, and battery cages for egg-laying hens. Agribusiness argued that giving farm animals room to turn around and extend their limbs would somehow threaten food safety (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary), complete with scaremongering TV ads featuring bed-ridden children.
In a moment of rare candor, the editor-in-chief of the industry trade journal, Egg Industry magazine, admitted that California Prop 2's opponents were not being honest. He wrote: "We should recognize that the strategy based on food safety...was invalid and unrealistic from the outset. [The food safety argument was] unconvincing, unsupportable and [was] easily refuted."
Now the industry is at it again, trying to stop a similar proposed ballot measure in Ohio. Another white paper was released today detailing how the mistreatment of farm animals can have serious public health implications. In the upcoming battle in Ohio you can be assured that both opposing campaigns will have scientists on their side, but only one will have science on its side.