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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2004

Schwarzenegger Terminates Form of Animal Cruelty
Signs Bill to Ban Force Feeding of Birds to Produce Foie Gras

Sacramento, CA - Demonstrating he truly cares about the welfare of animals, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed SB 1520 into law, a bill that bans the force feeding of ducks and geese in the production of foie gras. The bill also bans the sale of the product when made from force fed birds, both provisions taking effect in California in the year 2012.

SB 1520 was authored by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, who took on the legislation because he felt that, “Cramming food down a duck’s throat to make a gourmet item known as foie gras is not only unnecessary, it’s inhumane.”

The bill was supported by more than a dozen top celebrities including Martin Sheen, Sir Paul McCartney, Kim Bassinger, Alicia Silverstone and Mary Tyler Moore. It also was supported by a broad coalition of animal protection groups, including the sponsors: the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Farm Sanctuary, Los Angeles Lawyers for Animals and Viva!USA.

Animal advocates hailed SB 1520 as a major victory for the ducks and geese. Approximately 20,000 ducks are force fed and slaughtered every year by Sonoma Foie Gras, the sole California producer of foie gras. Moreover, the legislation is considered historic in the protection of animals, as it is one of a few times that a state has banned an inherently cruel factory farming practice.

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese large amounts of food so that their livers swell to up to 10 times normal size. A pipe is shoved down the bird's esophagus and food is forced into the stomach. The process is repeated two or three times daily for two to three weeks until the birds develop fatty liver disease. The birds are then slaughtered to produce foie gras.

In signing the bill, Schwarzenegger took a significant step in demonstrating his commitment to animal welfare. Burton also showed he’s a true friend of the animals by shepherding the bill through the Legislature.

The only other foie gras farm in the United States is located in New York, and legislation is pending in that state to ban the practice. Several other countries, including Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the majority of provinces in Austria, have already banned force feeding to produce foie gras.