Foodspeak coalition announces campaign against veggie libel
WASHINGTON, D.C.–In late April a group of organizations opposed to “veggie libel” laws announced a national campaign to work to repeal the laws in states where they have been enacted and fight against them where they are being considered.
Ronald Collins, director of the Foodspeak Coalition and an employee of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that the group intends to send letters to the governors of all states that either already enacted or were considering such laws, urging them to either repeal or reject the measures.
“The Coalition also will support efforts to challenge such laws in courts and organize local grass-roots efforts in all of these states,” Collins said.
The Foodspeak Coalition is a group of 26 organizations including the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the United States Public Interest Research Group.
Amy Simpson, state director of the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, both of which are being sued under Ohio’s veggie libel law by an egg producer for reporting that the producer was rewashing and repackaging old eggs, said “This lawsuit has been an Orwellian nightmare where old eggs are new and the truth is libelous.”
The states that have enacted laws against disparagement of agricultural products are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
Veggie libel bills have been introduced and are pending in at least six states, including Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont. The California legislature is considering two bills that would call for the state’s agriculture department to commission a university study of the impact of product disparagement on the state’s farming industry.