Foie Gras: Delicacy of Despair (Gourmet Cruelty)
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Legislative Campaigns

In 2004, California State Senator John Burton introduced S.B. 1520 to ban the production of foie gras. History was made on 29 September 2004, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed S.B. 1520 into law, making California the first state to prohibit the force-feeding of birds. The law also prohibits the sale of foie gras from force-fed birds. The ban on the sale and production of this cruelly made product will take effect in 2012.

California and New York are the only two states where foie gras is produced. Legislative actions are now being taken in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon.

Several other countries have already banned the force-feeding of birds to produce foie gras. Even Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against foie gras cruelty.

United States

Illinois

Senate Bill 413, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Wojcik, would ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese for foie gras in Illinois.

On 14 April 2005, the Illinois Senate passed S.B. 413 by a unanimous vote of 53–0!

This summer, a Study Committee in the Illinois House of Representatives will review the bill.

You can help! If you are a citizen of Illinois, you can contact your state representative to urge him or her to support S.B. 413. Let your representative know that foie gras production is extremely cruel and inhumane and should be banned in Illinois.

Contact your state legislators. Since S.B. 413 is now in the Illinois House of Representatives, it’s important to write your state (not federal) representative(s). Also, thank your state senator for such a compassionate vote and encourage him or her to support humane legislation in the future.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts state legislators have sponsored a bill that would prohibit the production and sale of foie gras.

Senate Bill 498 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. On 12 September, the committee will hear testimony on this bill.

You can help! If you are a citizen of Massachusetts, please write to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture co-chairs Senator Resor and Representative Smizik to urge them to support this important humane legislation.

Contact your state legislators to urge them to support this legislation. Let your members of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives know that foie gras production is extremely cruel and inhumane and should be banned in Massachusetts.

New York

For the second time, legislation banning the production of foie gras has been introduced in the New York State Assembly.

Assembly Bill 6212, sponsored by Assemblyman John McEneny, would amend the state animal cruelty law to make it “unlawful to force feed a bird, by hand or machine, for the purpose of fatty enlargement of the bird’s liver.” Senate Bill 3330, which would make it “unlawful to force feed bird by intubation for the purpose of enlarging the liver of such bird,” was introduced in the State Senate by Senator John J. Bonacic.

The Assembly Agriculture Committee passed A.B. 6212 on 1 June 2005, by a vote of 16–1! The bill now moves to the Assembly floor.

Right now, New York and California are the only two states responsible for foie gras production in the U.S. In 2004, the California State Legislature banned the force-feeding of birds. This cruel practice will now be phased out in California by 2012.

Update: Sadly, A.B. 6212 was killed in the New York Senate in June 2005.

Oregon

Senate Bill 861, sponsored by Senator Joanne Verger, would prohibit the production and sale of foie gras in Oregon.

This bill is endorsed by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and has gained bi-partisan support in the state legislature. The Senate Committee on Environment and Land Use approved S.B. 861 by a vote of 3–1–1. On 26 April 2005, the Senate passed S.B. 861 by a vote of 18-8. The bill now goes before a committee in the House of Representatives.

You can help! If you’re an Oregon citizen, you can contact your state representative to urge him or her to support S.B. 861. Let your representative know that foie gras production is extremely cruel and should be banned in Oregon. Since S.B. 861 is now in the Oregon House of Representative, it’s important to write your state (not federal) representative(s).

International

In August 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that force-feeding of geese and ducks is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. The Court allowed an extension of the practice until the end of March 2005, at which point the ban would be enforced. On 31 March 2005, the Supreme Court denied a request by the Ministry of Agriculture to delay the ban by another year, and the ban is now in effect.

Israel is the world’s fourth largest producer of foie gras, making this ban on force-feeding particularly significant.

Many countries have explicitly banned the force-feeding of ducks and geese. The following countries and states explicitly prohibit force-feeding: California, Austria (six of the nine provinces), Czech Republic (1992), Denmark (1991), Finland (1996), Germany (1993), Italy (2004), Luxembourg (1965), Norway (1974), Poland (1999), and Turkey.

The following countries have animal protection laws that are interpreted to prohibit the force-feeding of birds for foie gras production: Holland, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The European Union, which has prohibited cruel and inhumane veal crates and gestation crates, is considering a ban on foie gras. This ban would outlaw foie gras production in fifteen European countries.


In a recent interview, Pope Benedict XVI, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was asked about his thoughts on the treatment of animals. He responded with compassion and called animals our “companions in creation.” He also went on to say:

“we cannot just do whatever we want with them. … Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”

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