How to See Through Egg Industry Propaganda

How to See Through Egg Industry Propaganda

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One of my most reliable sources of amusement is watching factory farmers ineptly defend their brutal farming practices. Time after time, the statements they make and the materials they release are filled with incompetently executed lies that won’t fool anyone.

But credit where credit is due: the egg industry just funded a convincing propaganda video defending battery cages. The video does a remarkable job of distorting the truth. What’s more, unless the viewer has studied battery cage production, there’s no way he could be expected to see through this video’s wall of bullshit.

Every animal advocate should watch this video. It’s surprising to me that animal abusers have taken so long to figure out how to create quality propaganda, but this new video is a masterpiece of persuasive dishonesty. An uninformed viewer really has no chance to identify the deceptive items that went into this particular video, so here are some things to keep in mind while watching:

  • Notice how ridiculously clean everything else—a marked contrast to every undercover video out there, and a sure sign that something’s fishy.
  • The hens all look healthy and terrific, and I’m betting the reason is they’re just a couple months old. By the time a hen spends a year or so in a battery cage, she looks more like this and is the picture of ill-health.
  • Every single shot either shows the cages from a two o’clock angle, or is an extreme close-up of one bird. There are no head-on or top-town close-ups of a single battery cage, because that would reveal the extreme crowding each bird suffers.
  • The video at least twice uses the word “perfect,” as in, “while no system is perfect…” This is a masterfully crafted propaganda sentence that I expect all factory farmers to widely adopt. It’s an incredibly reasonable and accommodating phrase that makes it sound as though factory farmers are acknowledging shortcomings that they’re trying their best to address. Nothing in life is perfect, so people would naturally be willing to accept farming practices that stop short of perfect. But what’s at issue isn’t whether battery cages are perfect, but whether they’re incredibly and unacceptably cruel. Using the word perfect in this sense is really all about keeping the question of excessive cruelty from being discussed.

The video contains a couple of astonishing quotes from academics with ties to the egg industry:

“Cage production is humane using UEP [United Egg Producers] Guidelines,” — Jeff Armstrong, Dean of College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Michigan State University.

“The UEP certification is a model for how you utilize a scientific committee to develop the standard and a third party certifier to demonstrate that the standard’s actually been met.” — Paul Thompson, Ph.D., Chair W.K. Kellogg Agricultural, Food & Community Ethics, Michigan State University.

The UEP sounds like a mighty fine organization. Here are some things about the UEP that the video doesn’t reveal:

UEP guidelines [PDF link] for 2010 give each hen less space than a sheet of printer paper on which to spend her entire life. In 2003 and again in 2004, the Better Business Bureau ruled that the UEP was misleading consumers. Later, attorney generals from 17 states charged that the UEP was falsely advertising animal welfare claims. In response, the UEP paid $100,000 to settle those claims. On top of that, the UEP has been sued for illegal price fixing.

Here’s a HSUS report comparing battery cages to cage free, and another with experts giving statements on battery hen welfare.

Incredibly, they’re allowing comments on this video—so, if you have a moment, leave a response. Link.

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