Bill To Ban Foie Gras Farms In Massachusetts One Step Closer To Becoming Law

Senate Bill 498 Passes Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Force-feeding ducks and geese to produce "foie gras" (translated from French as "fatty liver") may soon be illegal in Massachusetts. Legislation aimed at ending this inhumane practice, Senate Bill 498, was voted out of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on February 28th. The measure, introduced last year by Senator Susan Fargo, has garnered widespread support among humane organizations, restaurants, and even farmers.

To produce foie gras, a pipe is forced down the throats of ducks and geese, and excessive quantities of food are pumped in, causing their livers to expand up to ten times the normal size. The engorged organ, which becomes diseased as a result of the force feeding, pushes against other internal organs making it difficult to walk and breathe normally. The treatment is so harsh and their health so bad, that many birds die before making it to slaughter.

Foie gras is an expensive appetizer sold by a handful of high-end restaurants. Most restaurants do not serve it, and nearly 900, including 174 in Massachusetts, have taken a formal stance against the cruelty of foie gras by signing pledges not to serve the inhumane product. Chef and restaurant owner, Didi Emmons, stated that her views about foie gras were formed when she studied culinary arts in France. Upon seeing the huge liver being pulled from a goose, she found it "bizarre and completely unnatural" and "wondered how the animal could be comfortable or healthy with this massive liver."

Gene Bauston president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, which is leading a nationwide campaign to end the cruelty of foie gras, stated, "We are pleased that SB 498 is moving forward in Massachusetts, and we hope the commonwealth will join over a dozen nations and the state of California in outlawing this egregious cruelty. Like all animals, farm animals experience pain, and they should be protected from abuse."

Additional information about foie gras production, legislation banning foie gras production, as well as a list of restaurants and retail establishments that have pledged not to serve foie gras can be found at www.NoFoieGras.org.

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