WASHINGTON – The Government Accountability Project’s (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday. The appeal seeks to uphold the U.S. District Court of Idaho’s August 2015 decision, which struck down Idaho’s controversial Ag Gag law. GAP submits that by criminalizing the taking of undercover videos, which are critical in validating whistleblower claims, Idaho’s Ag Gag laws essentially make it a crime to report a crime.
GAP’s amicus explained the impact of Ag Gag on whistleblowing and truth-telling in agriculture, warning the appellate court of the chilling effect Ag Gag creates among workers and staff in agricultural facilities.
“Consumers want to know what they’re eating,” said Amanda Hitt, Director of GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign. “Whistleblowers are the consumer’s eyes and ears, and they let us know what’s really happening with our food supply.”
Idaho’s law would unquestionably have a chilling effect on whistleblowers throughout Idaho’s agricultural and food production industry. Ag Gag laws threaten would-be whistleblowers with criminal prosecution, which discourages them from speaking up. As a consequence, whistleblowing takes a hit on critical issues that affect the public, such as threats to food safety, animal welfare, and the environment.
Whistleblower provisions that allow for the collection of evidence are found across numerous sectors such as banking, veteran’s affairs, and even food. As a friend of the court, GAP pointed out that Idaho’s Ag Gag law runs counter to legislative trends toward protecting and promoting whistleblowing. The federal government is relying on whistleblowers as its first line of defense against waste, fraud, abuse of power, and violations of public health and safety.
Sarah Nash, Counsel at the Food Integrity Campaign, stated:
“The lower court was right when it noted that Idaho’s law criminalizes the act of recording the agricultural facility, and undermines federal laws that specifically protect food industry whistleblowing.”
Contact: Amanda Hitt, Food Integrity Campaign Director
Phone: 202.457.0034 ext. 159
The Food Integrity Campaign is a program of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, the organization’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.