Scaring "domestic terrorism" practices by radical animal-rights extremists against a top San Francisco chef and his use of foie gras, are reported by SFGate.com. I don't think that this sort of violence is serving the cause it is supposed to support. And I have come several times to the same conclusion as Manrique, i.e. free speech is an extremely relative notion in America.
Foie gras is already under scrutinity in many countries as well as by the European Union itself, and could be on the verge of disappearance (although the figures below show the contrary). Israel's Supreme Court has scheduled its ban of production for 2005. Europe has given until 2010 to improve the methods of production in order to improve the animals welfare.
The WSPA notes that:
Animal protection laws in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Austria specifically prohibit force-feeding. In Switzerland the law against cruelty to animals is interpreted as preventing foie gras production, and in the United Kingdom, successive ministers have stated that it would not be allowed. Despite such laws, many of these countries still import large amounts of foie gras from France.
This highlights the hypocrisy, and to me the real gordian knot around the whole issue, many are condemning force-feeding in their vicinity but many are still willing to pay premium price to eat good foie gras. How many people do belong to both categories, would be an interesting figure to foresee the futur of foie gras.
A few figures:
Egyptians were producing foie gras 4500 years ago. France is by far the first producer of foie gras, with 16,430 tons in 2001 split into 583 T of goose (38% of the whole market for this variety) and 15,847 T of duck (91% of the whole market for this variety). In 2001, France exported 2979 tons of foie gras (+200% since 96) for 63 M and imported 2578 tons (+24% since 96) for 36 M. Imports were from Hungary (60%) and Bulgaria (37%). Spain is the first client with 407 T in 2001 (+16% from 2000), followed by the Benelux with 155 T (+20%), Switzerland (148, stable), Japan (125, +51%), UK (101, -17%), Germany (70, +32%). The US imported 42 T (+56%) and Honk Kong 50 T (+100%). [Source : Etude Filière Gras, novembre 2002, PDF]
Other readings on this subject:
- An excerpt of the summary, conclusion and recommendations from Welfare Aspects of the Production of Foie Gras in Ducks and Geese, a report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (whole report from the EU in PDF, or HTML preview)
- Ongoing initiatives on animal welfare on the farm
- Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes
- Grounds for hostilities by Damelon Kimbrough (hat tip for the SFGate.com article)
- (In French) site du Comité Interprofessionnel des Palmipèdes à foie gras