Although you, as a taxpayer, pay for reports by the Congressional Research Service, Congress does not allow you to read them. Fortunately, somebody leaked these reports of interest to environmental journalists.
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Do consumers have a right to know where their food comes from? What if there is a federal law decreeing that they have that right? Not anymore. None of that matters. International trade treaties — nowadays often negotiated in secret — trump United States law aimed at protecting consumers.
Investigative reporting in the environmental area depends on the Freedom of Information Act. The latest exposé on GMO lobbying in the New York Times by double-Pulitzer-winner Eric Lipton is a good example.
The battleground over transparency on food origins and ingredients is much wider than labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, as journalist Elizabeth Grossman points out in a recent piece in Civil Eats.
The Center for Food Safety has sued the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the Freedom of Information Act for withholding information on genetically modified crops (GMOs), after unsuccessfully seeking information over a period of 13 years.
Four journalists and a food writer have had their notes subpoenaed in a company's $1.2-billion defamation lawsuit against ABC News for calling its product, a common hamburger additive, "pink slime."
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Kentucky is the latest state to consider legislation criminalizing undercover photography of animal abuse in farm operations, which often ends up in the news. But Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins (pictured), who sponsored the measure to which the Senate attached the Ag-Gag language, says she won't call it up in the House.
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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 16 other journalism organizations, including the publishers of two major Utah newspapers, filed a friend-of-the-court brief December 10, 2013, arguing that Utah's ag-gag law infringes on constitutionally protected newsgathering rights.