With the rise of pushback against industrialized agriculture and factory farming over the past several years, it is only logical to expect an increase in litigation associated with these very important issues. While there has been litigation directly aimed at removing concern-inspiring foods like genetically modified organisms from the marketplace, those efforts have seen little success. However, the return to high-quality unaltered foods — or organic food, which our parents simply referred to as food — continues to gain momentum.
Rather than a direct, frontal assault on the factory farming industry itself, litigation will likely take a more indirect route — a fairly common approach for large, seemingly insurmountable issues. The legal recognition of same-sex marriages and the burgeon liberalization of marijuana laws are two prime examples.
In the food context, false advertising is going to be one of those areas. Here is an example of how processed foods are deceptively marketed. The fact that former federal officials — such as Kathleen Merrigan, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — are encouraging people to become involved in this movement further illustrates the scrutiny being applied to the industry.
How does this apply to other businesses, specifically those not involved in industrialized agriculture? By analogy. Factory farming is serving as a lightning rod for consumers to stand up and say “enough is enough.” Consumers have begun to demand greater quality, truthfulness and transparency in the products they buy. This attitude will spread from food to other products and industries. Those businesses that operate under a business model that promotes quality and truthfulness today are the businesses that will survive the changing tides of popular culture.