Since an animal activist arrested last spring under Utah’s new “agricultural operation interference” statute had the charges quickly dismissed because she was on public property at the time of the incident, Utah’s attorney general wants a constitutional challenge to the law tossed as well.
But a major food safety group Wednesday argued the benefit of the case going forward.
The Utah attorney general’s office says none of the parties actually involved – including a Washington, D.C., journalist, a Texas professor, and various individual animal activists – have “standing” to bring the case challenging Utah law.
Others, however, are paying the $15 fee to file so-called amicus briefs in support of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s federal lawsuit against Utah, challenging the state’s “ag-gag” law. The latest to present arguments is the Center for Food Safety, joined by other groups, which argues that Utah is criminalizing private conduct that “keeps the food supply safe in the absence of effective federal oversight.”
“In the absence of effective government regulation, private, undercover investigations of the kind conducted by [the] Plaintiffs and outlawed by Utah’s ‘ag gag’ law fulfill the much-needed role of overseeing the safety of our food supply,” wrote Center for Food Safety attorney Cristina Stella.
In its brief, the Center for Food Safety argued that “such investigations are currently the public’s best defense against foodborne illnesses that are known to be caused by diseased and contaminated animal products. Government inspectors have proven time and again to be incredibly ineffective at stopping food safety violations, and in some instances purposefully turn a blind eye so that they can continue.”© Food Safety News