EU accused of failing to act on evidence of abuses at foie gras factory farms

European commission has been supplied with a 'wealth of scientific evidence' and formal complaints, all to no avail, say animal welfare campaigners.

By Mimi Bekhechi

17 Sep 2014

PETA has teamed up with other animal protection organisations to promote a letter, which has so far has garnered more than 200,000 signatures, demanding that Jean-Claude Juncker and Maurizio Martina, President of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture, take urgent, meaningful action on foie gras farming in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary and Spain.

The law is simple: foie gras production methods are illegal, and its production should be banned across the EU without exemption. For the EU to protect its growing reputation for higher animal welfare standards, it needs to address the issue of foie gras production urgently.

For those of you who are not au courant with the issue of foie gras, this vile product is derived from the enlarged, diseased livers of ducks and geese.

"For the EU to protect its growing reputation for higher animal welfare standards, it needs to address the issue of foie gras production urgently"

In order to get the liver to expand to up to 10 times its natural size, the birds must be force-fed in a procedure known as gavage, in which a long pipe is forced down their throat up to three times a day for several weeks until their liver becomes so large that it presses on their lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Council Directive 98/58/EC prohibits such violent acts as force-feeding: "[providing] food or liquid in a manner... which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury". There is a clear scientific consensus that force-feeding is inhumane.

The European commission's own scientific committee on animal health and animal welfare has concluded that, as a result of force-feeding, normal liver structure and function is "severely altered and compromised".

Similarly, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has stated that the production of foie gras "raises serious animal welfare issues and it is not a practice that is condoned by FAO".

Foie gras production has, in fact, been banned under Article three of the European convention for the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, so it's outrageous that the five countries mentioned above have been allowed an exemption.

The facts are clear, but we are seeing no movement to address this issue. It is unacceptable for the commission to delay while millions of animals suffer illegally each year.

Without a shadow of a doubt, foie gras production is one of the cruellest of all the many cruel things done to animals on today's factory farms.

"The facts are clear, but we are seeing no movement to address this issue. It is unacceptable for the commission to delay while millions of animals suffer illegally each year"

A recent PETA investigation documented horrific cruelty at French foie gras farms with supposedly some of the highest levels of welfare in the world. Geese were filmed with blood dripping from open wounds as they stood on metal grates, and birds who were too sick and debilitated to support even their own bodyweight were not spared the horror of the farmer's force-feeding machine.

At the abattoir, geese were filmed struggling to lift their heads after a knife had been plunged into their throats without any prior stunning.

Moreover, the commission has been handed evidence that individual cages, which are illegal in the EU, are still in use in France, Hungary and Spain but to date has taken no meaningful action to stop this.

We and other animal-protection groups have also given the commission a wealth of scientific evidence, detailed briefings and formal complaints on the illegality of foie gras production but to no avail.

Enough is enough: it's time for action.

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