June 8, 2012
Guest post: the case in favor of the ban on foie gras

Note: After an earlier posting today on three special events devoted to foie gras, I received a call from Jennifer Fearing, California Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. I invited her to state the case in support of the ban on foie gras, which begins July 1. What follows is what she wrote:

The notion of foodies gorging on fatty liver from force-fed ducks and geese is more than a little ironic.

Foie gras, French for "fatty liver," is the diseased and enlarged liver of a duck or goose, produced through force-feeding. Multiple times each day for several weeks, a pipe is shoved down the birds' throats to force-feed them. The birds' livers, diseased with hepatic lipidosis, grow up to ten times their normal size, and are then sold as foie gras. Evidence suggests ducks and geese experience fear, acute and chronic stress, and pain. Mortality rates for force-feed ducks are 10-20 times higher than those for non-force fed ducks. Many animal welfare experts condemn the practice and no existing animal welfare program certifies a producer who force feeds their animals.

California was right to ban force-feeding of ducks and geese and products derived therefrom. We joined more than a dozen countries--including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel (formerly the world's fourth-largest foie gras producer), Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Argentina - that have either prohibited force-feeding or have interpreted it as illegal under existing anti-cruelty laws.

California's law, Senate Bill 1520 was enacted in 2004 and will finally take effect on July 1. Sonoma-Artisan Foie Gras--the only foie gras producer in California--supported the legislation because it allowed ample time to find an alternative to force-feeding. Company owner Guillermo Gonzalez wrote in 2004, "I have the moral stature to accept that if within the seven and a half years established by S.B. 1520, science and government don't arrive to the conclusion that the methods used in our foie gras production are acceptable...I will be ready to quit."

Well over 95 percent of California restaurants do not serve foie gras. Several cities have passed resolutions condemning foie gras, including: San Diego, San Francisco, Berkeley, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Laguna Woods. Several retailers--such as Costco, Safeway, Target, Giant Eagle, and Whole Foods Market--refuse to sell foie gras.

July 1st cannot get here fast enough for thousands of ducks and geese and for millions of Californians who care about their well-being.

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