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Ohio Elections Commission Pursues Frivolous Case Against Consumer Group
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
WASHINGTON - November 5 - Today, the Ohio Elections Commission acted to deny Food & Water Watch's constitutional right of free speech to discuss the connection between confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) and swine flu. The Commission's panel decided to allow the Ohioans for Livestock Care (OLC) PAC, a front group for the industrialized livestock industry, to pursue it's claim that radio ads about Issue 2 may have contained a false statement.
We are outraged that the Ohio Elections Commission is allowing OLC PAC - an extension of the Farm Bureau's long political reach - to intimidate us by pursuing a frivolous case. The Farm Bureau and their allies don't want the public to know about the health hazards of factory farms. First, they pressured the media to pull our ad. When that didn't work, they harassed us by filing a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission. Their scare tactics were an obvious attempt to distract Ohio voters from the truth by trying to suppress the other side of the story on Issue 2.
Food & Water Watch will not be silenced. A growing body of research supports the link between CAFO and swine flu. Environmental Health Perspective, a monthly journal of the United States' National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, recently published an interview with Gregory Gray, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, where he discussed how the CAFO environment is conducive to the spread of the virus.
"When respiratory viruses get into these confinement facilities, they have continual opportunity to replicate, mutate, reassort, and recombine into novel strains. The best surrogates we can find in the human population are prisons, military bases, ships, or schools. But respiratory viruses can run quickly through these [human] populations and then burn out, whereas in CAFOs-which often have continual introductions of [unexposed] animals-there's a much greater potential for the viruses to spread and become endemic."
We demonstrated to the commission today that the statements contained in our radio ads are valid concerns that we sought to bring to the public as they prepared to vote on Issue 2. Food & Water Watch will continue to pursue our constitutional rights on behalf of consumers, despite the dirty tactics of giant agribusiness.