The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rich Bindell: 202-683-2457

Ohio Elections Commission Pursues Frivolous Case Against Consumer Group

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter


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.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500