Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 10 Share on Twitter 2 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H4'ed 4/11/12

Uncovering Cruelty: Former MFA Investigator Speaks Out for Animals

By Nathan Runkle  Posted by Suzana Megles (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message Suzana Megles
April 9, 2012
Uncovering Cruelty: Former MFA Investigator Speaks Out for Animals
By Nathan Runkle
Each time Mercy For Animals sends someone undercover into a factory farm, slaughterhouse, or hatchery, the investigator uncovers horrific cruelty to animals. These investigations have garnered widespread media attention, and have resulted in corporate reform and criminal prosecution of animal abusers, and have propelled legislative initiatives to protect farmed animals.

We caught up with MFA's former undercover investigator, Cody Carlson, whose work was recently featured in the Atlantic, to get the inside scoop about his undercover work.

221603_1707082083289_1425173787_31518900_1894498_n.jpg How did you first learn about factory farming?

In my teens, I read a book about the famous McLibel trial in England--where McDonald's sued two UK activists for distributing leaflets that criticized McDonald's support for factory farming. I remember being shocked--not just to learn the truth about where my food came from, but also at how successful these industries had been at keeping people like me from finding out. I went vegetarian then and there. A few years later, I was at a punk show where I saw "Meet Your Meat" playing at one of the band's merchandise tables. Actually seeing what was happening on these factory farms had an even bigger impact on me. I went vegan and started leafleting at my college campus.

How did you get started as an undercover investigator?

Shortly after college, I was a researcher at a corporate investigations firm in New York. One night, I saw a Mercy For Animals' investigation of a battery-cage egg farm on the news. The next morning, I wrote to MFA to offer help with background research in future investigations. When Nathan Runkle called me back to suggest that I instead come on board as an undercover agent, I had a hard time saying no. I was nervous, obviously, but it sounded so much more rewarding than what I was doing at the time.

What was daily life like as an undercover investigator?

It was more challenging than anything else I will ever experience. The physical labor, constant emotional heartbreak, and psychological somersaults of living undercover come together to keep you constantly gasping for air, just hoping to make it another day until the investigation is over. If it wasn't for the wellspring of support coming from Nathan, other investigators, and the rest of the MFA gang, I don't know what I would have done.

Thumbnail image for 269890_1864081248170_1425173787_31675514_1948012_n.jpg What was the most challenging aspect of being an undercover investigator?

As an animal lover, it's just so difficult to witness such unspeakable cruelty day in, day out. Every day, I watched countless animals get abusively handled, maimed, and neglected, and there was very little I could do to help without blowing my cover.

Still, I tried to do whatever I could. In my role as a new and perhaps naive employee, I'd report abusive workers and animals in need of veterinary care to management, but they always told me they were aware of the issue and it was just part of the business. One manager even went so far as to forbid me from freeing egg-laying hens that had become trapped in their cages, saying it was a distraction from my duties. The amount of suffering going on in these places is so extreme and so senseless, it boggles the mind.

How do you feel about the "Ag-Gag" laws that have passed in Iowa and Utah?

Well, obviously, I'm concerned that something I used to do to try to make the world a better place can now land me in jail. At the same time, it's vindicating, since it proves that these investigations have been effective.

But these laws have a much greater impact on society than simply criminalizing a few investigators. They're designed to keep Americans in the dark about where their food comes from and to thwart the ongoing progress of the animal protection movements. That's bad for consumers, and it's terrible for farmed animals.

Even if you don't care about animals, these laws are still a menace to democracy. They're flagrantly unconstitutional; their entire purpose is to prevent journalistic scrutiny, which puts them directly at odds with the First Amendment. Also, they were drafted and implemented at the behest of wealthy trade groups that donated generously to the politicians who supported them. To me, that raises some serious concerns about the integrity of the democratic process.

The bright side is, since they were proposed two years ago, our investigations have been all over the media, and new investigations continue to result in felony cruelty charges, indicating that local prosecutors are still interested in going after the real criminals. Now that two of these laws have passed, I have every confidence that groups like MFA are going to challenge them in court. If they're successful, that will be a major victory for the movement.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 3   Valuable 3   Well Said 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Suzana Megles Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact EditorContact Editor
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Horse Racing Cruelty

Vote NO on Issue 2 if You Llive in Ohio

Leo Grillo/Delta Rescue

Can Veganism Save the World?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend