Coalition Will Fight ‘Veggie Libel’ Laws
A coalition including consumer activist Ralph Nader announced it will work to overturn or block “veggie libel” laws like the one Texas cattlemen used to sue Oprah Winfrey. The new Foodspeak Coalition said laws in 13 states and pending in many others are intended to muzzle public debate on food safety and protect food industry and agribusiness profits. “It seems corporations want to do what King George, foreign dictators and bad political bosses were unable to do: that is, shut up the American people,” Nader said. The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It intends to work to repeal existing state laws and oppose new ones. It also will join lawsuits, hoping a case will eventually reach the Supreme Court. Such laws arose after apple growers unsuccessfully sued CBS over a 1989 “60 Minutes” segment about the safety of the spray Alar. Farmers and food companies say they need protection against unsubstantiated claims that can scare consumers and cost them millions of dollars.