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'World News' Promotes Anti-Agribusiness Flick

From the same people that brought us anti-food industry motion pictures “Fast Food Nation” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” comes another film called “Food, Inc.” and it was ABC’s “Closer Look” into a beef recall June 28.

Anchor Dan Harris’s tease built credibility for the movie: “An E. coli outbreak triggers a major recall of beef. Tonight a rare, inside look at how some food is made. It’s enough to make you sick.”

Then John Donvan’s segment directly tied a recent beef recall by the JBS Swift Beef Company (in which 400,000 lbs of ground beef was recalled) to the new movie that criticizes high-fructose corn syrup and the threat of E. coli to beef products.

“This latest scare comes as a new muckraking documentary, ‘Food, Inc.’ hits theaters,” Donvan said. “It claims to uncover the dirty secrets behind how big food companies operate.” His report included three anti-industry voices including the filmmaker Robert Kenner.

Kenner told ABC there’s an effort by food producers to hide the truth about how food is grown because this knowledge would be bad for business.

“They don’t want us as consumers to think about how our food is grown and what’s in it,” Kenner said.

Donvan said the film showed how industry “methods” could spread disease.

“E. coli, which can cause serious illness, even death – comes from cow manure,” Donvan said. “The film says the industry’s methods are to blame, especially feed lots.”

However, Donvan’s report did not reveal any specific examples of those “industry methods” or where they were happening. Through generalities his report made it seem like such practices were industry-wide.

But according to Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, “Food Inc.” is just a “caricature” of the real beef industry.

“I’ve been in this industry for 18 years and for me, it was like going to see a film about modern investigative techniques and having Scooby Doo show up on the screen,” Riley said according to an agricultural trade journal on June 19. “It was a caricature.”

The only pro-industry voice in Donvan’s segment, Riley told “World News” there are strict federal laws already in place regulating the beef industry.

“We’re the only sector of animal agriculture that has a federal law that places strict requirements on how we handle livestock and we can be shut down for failure to comply,” Riley said.