Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Won't Somebody Think of the Vegetables?

Those poor defenseless fruits and vegetables have got a champion in the form of California State Assemblymember Audra Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks). For years, whenever some thoughtless critic of conventional farming methods dared to point out that pesticides were deadly to humans as well as pesky insects, or that genetic manipulation of produce might not be entirely healthy for consumers, or that maybe, just maybe, leafy vegetables with E. coli could make some people very sick and, occasionally, very dead, consumable flora have had no one to turn to to defend their rights.

But now Assemblymember Strickland has donned the red cape and leotard with the big "S" (for Super Assemblymember) and leapt to the defense of commercially grown produce (and their big bucks growers), drafting AB 689, the "Perishable agricultural product defamation" bill, which would allow growers to sue anyone who dared libel spinach and tomatoes and squash (amongst other innocent, health-depriving - vegetation) as being not entirely good for the populace at large:
This bill would allow a producer of a perishable agricultural
product, as defined, who suffers actual damages as a result of another person's disparagement of the producer's product to recover those actual damages if certain facts are found to be true. [Emphasis mine] The bill would define "disparagement" for these purposes as a false and unprivileged publication regarding a perishable agricultural product that clearly impugns the safety of the product. The bill would require the plaintiff to bear the burden of proof as to each element of the cause of action.

Should this bill be passed, California would join such forward thinking states as Texas and Georgia (as well as eleven other states) in protecting those who have, until now, had no voice: multi-million dollar agricultural interests.

May the cucumbers bless Ms. Strickland...

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