Monday, January 09, 2017

People 1, Dairy Industry Nil

The dairy industry, New Zealand's biggest polluters, has failed in an effort to censor a TV ad criticising their pollution:

The dairy industry has shot itself in the foot by complaining about a Greenpeace "dirty dairying" ad, environmentalists say.

Industry group Dairy NZ picked a fight with the group over an ad saying: "Precious water supplies are being polluted by industrial dairy farming and massive irrigation schemes".

The dairy group was behind one of the 12 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over the ad.


However, the ASA rejected all of the complaints, in a newly-released ruling.

Its complaints board said the statements in the ad "would not come as a surprise to most New Zealanders."

"We would encourage Dairy NZ to concentrate its resources into addressing the very real problems of river degradation, rather than trying to pretend the problem doesn't exist."

Sadly, that's exactly what the dairy industry will continue to do - because their social licence, and their profitability, depends on it. Plus, this isn't just about shutting down the ad - its about sending a message that criticising the dairy industry is expensive, and that if you do it you will need to hire lawyers. Its a perfect example of what the US calls a SLAPP, a "strategic lawsuit against public participation". Over half of US states now have anti-SLAAP laws, allowing such meritless suits against conduct falling within freedom of speech to be easily dismissed without cost to defendants. If the dairy industry continues to throw its weight about, maybe we'll need one of those too?