Anti- foie gras activists swallow a promise instead of action in California “victory”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2004:

SACRAMENTO–Farm Sanctuary, In Defense
of Animals, PETA, and the Humane Society of the
U.S. declared victory on September 29, 2004 when
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed
a bill that will purportedly ban force-feeding
ducks and geese to produce foie gras, effective
in 2012. But as the San Francisco Chronicle
reported, “The state’s lone farm engaged in the
practice, Sonoma Foie Gras, also hailed it as a
“We supported this bill and thank the
governor and the legislature,” Sonoma Foie Gras
owner Guillermo Gonzalez e-mailed to Andrew
Gumbel and John Lichfield of The Independent, a
London newspaper that covered the issue for
British readers.
The British-based organization Compassion
In World Farming initially applauded the
California bill, but CIWF European Coalition for
Farm Animals campaign coordinator Barbara Dias
Pais on October 7 acknowledged to ANIMAL PEOPLE
that “the news was indeed badly misinterpreted by
many of us here in Europe.”

The bill “does not ban foie gras,”
Schwartzenegger stipulated. “This bill provides
seven and a half years for agricultural husbandry
practices to evolve and perfect a humane way for
a duck to consume grain to increase the size of
its liver through natural processes. If
agricultural producers are successful in this
endeavor,” Schwartzengger continued, “the ban
on foie gras sales and production in California
will not occur.”
“California has become the first state to
explicitly legalize force-feeding ducks and geese
to produce foie gras,” said Humane Farming
Association cofounder Brad Miller. “In addition
to protecting Sonoma Foie Gras for the next seven
and a half years from being prosecuted under
existing animal cruelty laws, this bill takes
away the right of citizens to bring civil
lawsuits against the company for force-feeding,
and effectively eliminates a lawsuit pending
against the company.”
HFA was the only major animal advocacy
group to actively oppose the bill.
“I had very mixed feelings about the
legislation,” In Defense of Animals founder
Elliot Katz admitted to ANIMAL PEOPLE, “first
being very upset that the sponsors would
introduce amendments that threw out our lawsuit.
But I felt that in the long run we could get more
benefit from the bill passing than we could from
our lawsuit. I believe passage of the bill will
help us convince the media and the public that
force-feeding animals is cruel and unusual
Katz pledged to continue campaigning
against foie gras, to avoid allowing Sonoma Foie
Gras to quietly win amendments that might rescind
the promised ban before it ever takes effect.

Delay in France

The history of animal protection
legislation offers many examples of similar
delayed bans of various practices, most of which
were dismantled. Most notoriously, the European
Union agreed in 1990 to prohibit imports of
trapped fur, effective in 1996. In 1996 the ban
was delayed for another year, and in 1997 it was
scrapped entirely.
The Council of Europe in 1999 recommended
voluntary husbandry standards for ducks and geese
which require that they should get markedly more
space than most raised for foie gras now have.
Effective on January 1, 2005, all ducks and
geese are supposed to be able to stand up and
stretch their wings.
France, accounting for 85% of global foie gras
consumption and 70% of production, quickly
ratified the 1999 recommendations–but on
September 17, 2004 the French agriculture
ministry gave the 6,000 French foie gras
producers another five years to comply.


As 2004 legislative sessions concluded,
California continued a decade-long tradition of
leading all states and territories in the number
of animal-related bills to win passage through
the state house of representatives and
senate–but not all of them became law this time.
While signing the foie gras bill, Governor
Schwartzenegger also signed a bill to prohibit
declawing either exotic cats or native wild cats,
but vetoed repealing a 1933 statewide ban on
possession of ferrets.
Schwarzenegger said he vetoed legalizing
ferrets because the bill was “too bureaucratic,”
and would permit keeping ferrets “prior to
conducting an environmental impact report.”
Replied American Ferret Association
president Gigi Shields, “To conduct an
environmental impact study when there is no valid
evidence that domestic ferrets have ever been or
might become an environmental problem anywhere in
North America is a waste of time and resources.”

Other 2004 legislative highlights:

Felony cruelty

Puerto Rico Governor Sila M. Cauldron on
September 22 signed into law a bill introduced by
Senator Eudaldo Báez Galib to create a felony
cruelty penality.
The U.S. Virgin Islands legislature on
September 30 sent a similar bill to Governor
Charles Turnbill, who was expected to sign it.
Originally introduced in 2000, the bill finally
won unanimously approval from the Virgin Islands
Senate after the sponsors agreed to exempt

Hunting safety

New York Governor George Pataki on
September 17 vetoed a bill to require hunters to
wear orange. Pataki vetoed a similar bill in
2003. At least 40 of the 50 U.S. states require
hunters to wear orange. New York, Vermont, and
New Hampshire are among the most prominent
“While it is inappropriate and dangerous for
hunters to assume that they are clear to shoot in
the absence of seeing blaze orange, I am
concerned that the bill’s statutory mandate could
unfortunately lead less careful hunters to make
that assumption,” Pataki said.
New York had 32 reported hunting injuries and two
fatalities in 2003, half the average total
during the 1990s. The number of licensed hunters
in New York fell by about 10% from 1990 to 2003.
The number of days each hunter spent in the field
is believed to have fallen by 15% to 20%.

Canned hunts

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Black in
mid-July signed a bill which prohibits “killing
for sport” any zoo or circus animal, and also
prohibits zoos and circuses from selling or
giving animals to any entity that allows them to
be hunted.

Dove hunting

In Michigan, a newly formed Coalition to
Restore the Dove Shooting Ban on August 5
announced that it will petition to put an
initiative prohibition on dove hunting on the
November 2006 state ballot. The coalition will
have to gather 158,000 petition signatures in
favor of the ban by March 2005. Earlier in 2004
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a bill
authorizing the first open dove season in the
state since 1905.
Coalition members include the Michigan Audubon
Society, Detroit Audubon Society, Kalamazoo
Humane Society, and Songbird Protection
Coalition. The initiative campaign is endorsed
by six national animal advocacy organizations.


Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on
July 31 vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed
students at all levels of education the rightto
opt out of dissection for moral, ethical, or
religious reasons.
The bill cleared the state senate 35-3,
and was passed unanimously by the house.
“Biomedical research is an important
component of the Commonwealth’s economy and job
creation,” said Romney. “This bill would send
the unintended message that animal research is
frowned upon.”
New England Anti-Vivisection Society
representative Barbara Stagno pointed out that
while Massachusetts is second in receipt of
federal funding for biomedical research,
California gets half again as much, and has had
a dissection choice law since 1988. New York,
just behind Massachusetts, has had a dissection
choice law since 1993. Nine states in all have
dissection choice laws.
State representative Louis L. Kafka, who
sponsored the vetoed bill, in September tried to
add similar language to a budget bill.
The Romney administration on August 20
gave animal advocates a consolation price when
Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey signed a bill to
boost cruelty penalties.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.