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27 April, 2008 - “Smile, You’re on Candid Camera”

Most of us are familiar with the TV line “Smile, you’re on candid camera”. Since I appear on television every week, I am accustomed to looking into a TV camera, but I wonder how often we are watched on a hidden TV camera and are not aware of it. Surveillance TV cameras are becoming a way of life, it seems, with cameras mounted on stoplights, in stores and banks as well as many other places. You never know when you are being watched or recorded on videotape; which brings me to the latest surveillance suggestion.

It came recently from a representative of the American Humane Association testifying before the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Dr. John J. McGlone, a professor in Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech University, speaking on behalf of the American Humane Association, told the Committee members that TV cameras should be installed in animal-processing plants across the nation to reduce instances of inhumane treatment, improve the state of farm animal welfare and restore consumer confidence.

The hearing was held to deal with the incident earlier this year in a California meat-processing plant where a hidden TV camera recorded inhumane treatment of animals by two employees who now face felony charges. The tape was seen on every TV news channel for a week and was soundly condemned by producers and processors in the livestock industry.

Dr. McGlone went on to say “A single person from a single federal agency observing animals and handlers at any give time, and less than 100% of the time, is not sufficient to prevent a human-induced error or crime”. And who does Dr. McGlone think should do the monitoring?...USDA inspectors and a third-party, non-profit organization like the American Humane Association.

I really have mixed feelings on this one...I agree we must restore the image of the industry as well as consumer confidence, but I’m not sure that American Humane Association’s definition of humane treatment would be the same as producers. Beyond that, however, what’s next?...demands from animal rights groups to place TV cameras in your poultry houses, dairy and swine barns and feedlots? That would be too much of an invasion of your privacy, but don’t be surprised if they try it.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.


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