26 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 1 (2000)
Free Speech, Food Libel, & (and) the First Amendment ... in Ohio

handle is hein.journals/onulr26 and id is 9 raw text is: Free Speech, Food Libel, & the First Amendment... in Ohio
RONALD K.L. COLLINS*
Consumer information is essential to a consumer culture. Our society
depends on the free-flow of information in order to render better informed
judgments about a variety of matters of public concern. One such matter of
great public concern is our food supply, its healthfulness, and its safety. As
with political expression, public discourse about food needs to be robust in
order that diverse and challenging forms of information-from skeptical
opinions to hard science-may find expression in the marketplace. This
model of communication, so vital to our culture, cannot co-exist with laws
designed to silence public criticism of food in order to secure a particular
industry's monetary goals. The marketplace of ideas principle malfunctions
insofar as the free speech liberties of a community succumb to isolated
economic interests.
Functionally speaking, food disparagement laws prevent or chill
meaningful and vigorous expression about agricultural and aquacultural
products. Like yesterday's libel laws designed to shield public officials from
public scrutiny, today's food disparagement laws serve to shield public
marketers of agricultural producers from that same kind of scrutiny. As with
government libel laws, food disparagement statutes can readily turn into a
numbing instrument of suppression.' In the end, such laws pit those who
speak out on food against those few who have the time, the will, and, most
critically, the financial resources to pursue a case that might take years to
wind its way through the labyrinth of the judicial system at a cost likely to be
prohibitive to most citizens.2
* 02000, R. Collins. Ronald Collins heads a First Amendment project at the Center for Science
in the Public Interest, a non-profit group in Washington, D.C. For purposes of full disclosure, the author
notes that he has been involved in several of the legal actions discussed in this Article.
1. Martin Garbus & Stanley Cohen, TOUGH TALK 139 (1998).
2. Id.

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