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In World’s Foie Gras Capital, the “Delicacy of Despair” is Coming Under Fire

December 31, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Eighty percent of the world’s foie gras is produced in France, where it is protected by law as part of the country’s “cultural and gastronomical heritage.” But even in France, where it is regarded by many as a food group, the delicacy of despair is coming under fire.

Photo: L214

In the past several weeks, three incidents have compromised foie gras’ once esteemed place in French society.

1. A poll taken in France shows increased opposition to foie gras.  In December, 47% of those surveyed said they would support a ban –  a 3% increase from 2013. In addition, 77% said they would prefer foie gras that was not made through gavage, French for force feeding. (Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size. The pipes are inserted 12″ down their gullets three times daily in the weeks leading up to slaughter.)

"No. Not again."

Gavage (force feeding)

2. Legendary actress Brigrette Bardot filed a formal appeal with the EU Commission to ban the production of foie gras. In an open letter to the  Health Commissioner, she argued that, because many EU countries have already outlawed force feeding, the EU Commission should “harmonize laws against this cruel and barbaric practice” by banning it in all member countries. After all, she says, force feeding “goes against European values of promoting animal welfare.”

Photo: Corbis

Photo: Corbis

3. British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal dropped his foie gras supplier in France after The Daily Mirror released footage of dead and injured ducks that a veterinarian described as a “representation of hell.” A spokesman for his restaurant, which is ironically named Fat Duck, said, “We were shocked at the video and the conditions in which the ducks were apparently being kept.” Fat Duck is currently closed for renovations, but the menu on its website does not contain foie gras.

Chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck in the U.K. (photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck in the U.K. (photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The movement to ban foie gras is still young, but significant progress has made. In 2004, California banned the production and sale of foie gras. The law went into effect in 2012. In October, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the California law, sending a strong message to other states that they can, as California Attorney General stated, pass laws that “prohibit the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare.”

In the U.K., foie gras production is illegal, and activist groups are advocating to end the sale. Since August, Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at least six restaurants.

Hertfordshire Animal Rights

Hertfordshire Animal Rights

Israel, India and Argentina have imposed restrictions on the production, sale and/or importation of foie gras.

After France, the world’s largest producers of foie gras are Hungary (8%) and Bulgaria (6%). The U.S. produces just over 1% of the world’s supply.

As the public is increasingly exposed to the cruelty of foie gras production, “tradition” will become a much weaker justification. After all, if Barcelona can ban bullfighting, then France can – and eventually will – ban force feeding.

Your Turn

Please share this story to educate others about the cruelty of foie gras, and please sign the petition to ban the production and importation of foie gras in the EU.

If you have never seen force-feeding, please watch this video created by Last Chance for Animals.

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Victory: U.S. Military Surrenders to PETA

December 16, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In a major victory for animals, the U.S. military will stop using live animals for various military training purposes as of January 1st. The new policy, which was instituted as a result of many years of advocacy by PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), will eliminate some of the worst abuses, from cutting apart pigs to forcing tubes down live the throats of live cats and ferrets as a component of pediatric training. Wherever possible, lifelike human simulators will be used.

Human simulator

Human simulator

Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane Unchained interviews Justin Goodman, PETA’s Director of Laboratory Investigations, to learn more about the victory.

According to Mr. Goodman, “institutional inertia” and resistance to change in the military make this astonishing victory truly historic. But much change is still needed, as the government continues to use live animals to replicate battlefield trauma. While this has been reduced in recent years, PCRM estimated several years ago that the military shoots, blows up and dismembers at least 8,500 live goats, pigs and other animals each year in these training exercises.

On the bright side, the U.S. Secretary of Defense wrote in a letter to PETA that the Pentagon will work to identify ways to phase out this testing too. If the will is there, then that shouldn’t be too big a challenge, as studies show that those who learn trauma treatment on human simulators are better equipped to treat injured patients than those who are trained on live animals.

Studies show human simulators more useful than live animals in trauma training

Studies show lifelike human simulators are more useful than live animals in trauma training

Your Turn

The use of any animals in military training begs the question as to why they have to pay the price for human warfare. If countries choose to attack each other, an activity unique to humans, then what right do we have to bring animals into it?

Please use PETA’s email action alert to ask U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security officials to replace animals in military trauma training with superior non-animal training methods.


Filed under: Experimentation, Victories
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Three Victories to Celebrate!

December 11, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Today, it really is Their Turn! We have three victories to celebrate – each better the next.

First up – Eight female pigs are jumping for joy – literally – because their recent journey from gestation cage to slaughterhouse was pleasantly interrupted by people who liberated them. The brains behind the rescue? A student taking a “swine production” class who fell in love with them. The money? None other than Sam Simon, the Simpsons co-creator who is donating his fortune to animal rights causes.

Next up- the gay bull in Ireland who became an international sensation when his story went viral. As Benjy was being fattened up for a premature slaughter because he wasn’t inseminating female cows, the Irish animal rights group ARAN convinced his owner to sell him. Now, Benjy will live out his remaining years at a luxurious sanctuary, serving as an ambassador to all farm animals. And who’s funding his retirement? A few hundred people made contributions, but Sam Simon swooped in with the big bucks to close the deal.

Last, but not least, lawmakers in Oakland, California, have voted to ban the use of bull hooks, the weapons used by circuses to beat their elephants into submission (see video below). Los Angeles is the only other U.S. city with a bull hook ban. Without these weapons, the monsters at Ringling Bros. will be unable to bring their battered elephants into the city limits. The ban doesn’t go into effect until 2017, but it’s a major victory, and it sets a precedent for other municipalities. Let’s hope that Ringling employees don’t take out their anger on the elephants.

Your Turn

Hit the pause button to celebrate, share and be re-energized by the victories.

Filed under: Entertainment, Food, Victories
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After Much Debate, Denmark to Ban Bestiality

October 13, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In response to an onslaught of negative press, Denmark is outlawing bestiality on the grounds that animals cannot consent to sex. Denmark is the last European country where sex with animals is legal, which explains why busloads of tourists from other countries travel there to engage in legal bestiality.

Animal rights activists have been lobbying for a ban for years, but authorities resisted due to fears that it could drive the worst offenders underground. Lawmakers also rejected the idea in the past because Denmark’s ethics advisory body said that a crime is not committed if the animal isn’t injured. That argument, however, was diminished by evidence of atrocities against animals used in the sex trade.


The 2014 documentary Animal F*ckers, which chronicles the efforts of animal rights activists to ban sex with animals, presented a nuanced view of the practice, informing viewers that zoophilia (attraction to animals) is, for some, a sexual orientation, not a fetish, and that “zoophiles” love and care for their animal companions.

In the film, Oliver Burdinski, a German man who speaks openly about his sexual relationship with his dog, says, “When I was 14 or 15, I wasn’t sure if it was right, so I tried to get human partners. But I was not happy with them. I tried to be normal. In 1994, I got internet and realized that I’m not alone.”

Oliver Burdinski says his huskie decides when they have sex.

Oliver Burdinski says his Siberian Husky decides when they have sex. (photo:


If Denmark outlaws bestiality on the grounds that the animals cannot consent, then will lawmakers take a closer look at other circumstances in which animals are exploited without their consent? Gestation crates on factory farms have been banned in other European countries, yet they’re still legal in Denmark. What pig would willingly reside in an indoor crate that is so small that she can’t turn around or lie down?

Filed under: Companion Animals, Victories
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“Ag Gag” Bill Blocked, but Agribusiness To Escalate Fight To Keep Cameras Out

September 25, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

An “ag gag” bill that was introduced in Southern Australia after undercover investigations exposed animal abuse on pork and wool farms has been voted down. The Surveillance Devices Bill would have penalized activists with up to $15,000 in fines or with imprisonment for releasing footage taken of factory farms.

gestation crates

What agribusiness doesn’t want consumers to see

The Sydney Morning Herald, which declared the vote “a win for consumer advocacy, workers’ rights, freedom of the press and animal protection,” cautioned that supporters of “ag gag” will push for legislation at the federal level.

Following is a two minute non-graphic video taken inside of a pig factory farm in Australia. As the Communications Director of Animals Australia describes the conditions, the intelligent pigs in the background attempt to escape from the intensive confinement of their cages:

Your Turn

As reported on TheirTurn in August, supporters of ag-gag in Australia attempted to disguise the bill as a measure to protect farm animals when its true intent is to keep the public in the dark. Most consumers continue to be unaware of the existence of factory farms and probably believe that the animals who they eat are raised on the green pastures shown on the packaging.

As activists, we must ensure that the work being done by undercover investigators is protected by law and distributed widely to the public. To that end, please share Mercy For Animals’ video  – Farm to Fridge – that takes viewers behind the scenes on modern-day factory Farms.

Filed under: Food, Victories
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