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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : February 23, 2004

CONTACT: Teri Barnato- 530-759-8106 or 530-219-7192 (cell)

California Bill Would Ban Force Feeding of Ducks 
and Sales of Foie Gras
Animal Protectionists Say Practice is Cruel

Sacramento, CA ...Senate Bill 1520 has been introduced by Senate President Pro-Tem John Burton at the request of a coalition of animal protection organizations. The California bill seeks to prohibit the force feeding of ducks and geese in the production of foie gras, as well as sale of the product.

"We just shouldn't be cramming a tube down a duck's throat and forcing in food to make foie gras," said Senator Burton. "It's an inhumane process that other countries have sensibly banned. I'm pleased California will be next on the list."

Foie gras (or fatty liver) is produced by force feeding ducks and geese excessive amounts of food several times daily, which subsequently causes their livers to swell up to 10 times normal size. Some restaurants serve the fatty liver as an expensive food item.

"Foie gras production is animal cruelty, and California should take a stand against such abuses," said Teri Barnato, National Director of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, one of the bill sponsors. "It is time for California to join with countries such as Denmark, Norway, Poland, Germany, and Israel to make this practice illegal."

A nationwide poll taken last month by Zogby International revealed that 77 percent of likely voters believe the practice of force feeding should be banned. 

According to Professor Ian Duncan of the University of Guelph, Ontario, "Forcing food down a bird's gullet beyond the limits of its appetite will cause pain and suffering... Force feeding quickly results in birds that are obese and in a pathological state, called hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease."

"Representatives of the poultry industry are claiming that gorging before migration is similar to force feeding, which is ludicrous," said Barnato. "If ducks ate that much food naturally, then force feeding wouldn't be necessary. Further, the Mullard, the duck selected for foie gras production, is a cross between two duck species, one that does not migrate."

Professor Nicol of the Division of Farm Animal Science at the University of Bristol in England has observed the practice and also finds it cruel. "Foie gras production takes no account of the physiological state of the bird but involves force feeding far beyond the point at which the bird would naturally stop."

SB 1520 is sponsored by the following organizations: Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights ( www.avar.org ), Farm Sanctuary ( www. farmsanctuary.org ), Los Angeles Lawyers for Animals, and Viva!USA ( www.vivausa.org ).