Origins of Food-Disparagement Laws

The food-disparagement laws grew out of a 1989 CBS-TV "60 Minutes" report on the pesticide Alar and its use on apples, which gave rise to the Alar litigation. Grady Auvil v. CBS "60 Minutes" et al, 800 F.Supp. 941 (1992); Auvil v. CBS "60 Minutes" et al, 67 F.3d 816 (1995), cert. denied 116 S. Ct. 1567 (1996). See Bruce E.H. Johnson, "Alar Problems: The Auvil v. CBS Case," Libel Defense Resource Center Bulletin (1998, issue # 2, April 30), pp. 11-15; John Margiotta, "The Movement Begins: The Model Bill for Agricultural Disparagement Statutes," id. at pp. 17-25.

According to Steve Kopperud of the American Feed Industry Association, his group arranged with Dennis Johnson of the law firm of Olsson, Frank & Weeda (Wash., D.C.) to draft model food-disparagement legislation. See also Marianne Lavelle, National Law Journal, May 5, 1997, A-1; The Webster Agricultural Letter (vol. 5, # 3, Feb. 6, 1998, Wash., D.C.), p.2). Thereafter, the American Feed Industry Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation distributed the model legislation for industry lobbying purposes. See AIF Newsletter (vol. 10, # 3, May 1997). A copy of the "Model State Code to Protect Agricultural Producers & Products from Defamation" can be found as an Appendix to the LDRC Bulletin, supra, at pp. 91-93.

In 1991 Colorado State Representative Steve Acquafresca introduced a food-disparagement bill. Though the bill made it through both chambers, the governor of Colorado vetoed it. See J. Sanko, "Romer Polishes All the Right Apples in Veto of Veggie Bill," Rocky Mountain News, May 13, 1991; John Margiotta, LDRC Bulletin, supra. Later in the same year, Louisiana became the first state to enact such a law.

For related matters on this Web site, see Alar Cases and Existing Food-Disparagement Laws.

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