“A hundred years ago one man wrote a book that changed America. The man was Upton Sinclair. The book was “The Jungle.” It exposed the scandalous rancid health conditions inside the country’s meat processing plants and led to the passage of landmark federal legislation that regulated health and sanitation in meat processing for the first time in our history.
A heart stopping new documentary, “Shall We Gather at the River” has just been released which exposes a huge health and environmental scandal in our modern industrial system of meat and poultry production. The health and environmental damage documented in today’s factory farms far exceeds the damage that Sinclair could have imagined a century ago. Some scientists have condemned current factory farm practices, calling them “mini Chernobyls.”
The European Union stands virtually alone in establishing strong health and environmental standards for the industry. In the U.S and elsewhere the meat and poultry industry is dominated by dangerous use of arsenic, antibiotics, growth hormones and by the dumping of massive amounts of sewage in fragile waterways and environments. The film documents the vast catastrophic impact on the environment and public health. It focuses on individual lives damaged and destroyed.
As one observer noted, if terrorists did this, we would be up in arms, but when it is a fortune 500 company, it is just “business as usual.” The film follows the work of a handful of courageous activists and leaders who have faced intimidation and death threats and witnessed the profound impact of political abuse and corruption. In 1906, public outrage at the scandal exposed by Sinclair led to major reforms that cleaned up a corrupt and dangerous system. It is the hope of the filmmakers of “Shall we gather at the River” that their film will mobilize a similar public outcry for reform.”