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Berkoff writes: "Birds raised for foie gras are force-fed up to 4 1/2lbs of grain and fat a day through a tube that is shoved down their throats – a process that one California politician describes as 'the equivalent of waterboarding.'"

Gavage is the practice of force-feeding birds to produce the delicacy foie gras. (photo:
Gavage is the practice of force-feeding birds to produce the delicacy foie gras. (photo:

Foie Gras: Torture in a Tin

By Steven Berkoff, Guardian UK

25 June 12


California is about to become the first state in the US to ban foie gras. Britain should follow its lead.

n 1 July, California is poised to become the first state in the US to ban foie gras. The ban was actually passed in 2004, with more than a seven-year grace period to give California's sole foie gras producer time to implement reforms and figure out a way to produce the dreadful "delicacy" without force-feeding ducks and geese. The producer didn't achieve either goal, and now it has procrastinated itself out of business. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

I may have been typecast in Hollywood as a bad guy, but there is something inherently sinister about force-feeding birds to the extent that their livers balloon up to 10 times their normal size. California was right to ban this barbarity, and in the UK, where force-feeding is prohibited, a ban on the sale of products from this suffering is long overdue.

Birds raised for foie gras are force-fed up to 2kg grain and fat a day through a tube that is shoved down their throats - a process that one California politician describes as "the equivalent of waterboarding". Force-feeding birds such an enormous amount of food results in a painful disease known as hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver disease. The birds also often suffer from internal haemorrhaging, as well as fungal and bacterial infections.

A New York Times reporter who visited California's foie gras farm found that force-fed ducks "moved little and panted", and an employee admitted to a journalist reporting for another publication: "Some [birds] die from heart failure as a result of the feeding or from choking when they regurgitate." An undercover investigation at the farm revealed filthy, bedraggled birds that struggled to breathe - some of which were too ill to stand - and even the bodies of dead birds among the living.

Nonetheless, American farms are a walk in the park compared with some French farms. Undercover video footage shot inside foie gras farms in France - the country that supplies much of the foie gras sold in the UK - has shown ducks crammed individually into shoebox-like cages that are barely larger than the birds' bodies. Their heads and necks protrude through a small opening for force-feeding. The ducks are confined in this way - unable even to stretch a wing or take a single step in any direction - for 24 hours a day. Many don't survive the ordeal: an average of 20% of ducks on foie gras farms die before slaughter, 10 to 20 times the average death rate on a regular duck farm.

Force-feeding birds has been denounced by every expert in the field of poultry welfare. The scientific consensus is so strong that foie gras production has been banned in 17 countries. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Brit Awards, Wimbledon, Lord's Cricket Ground and the Royal Shakespeare Company have all promised in recent years not to serve or sell foie gras, and Prince Charles refuses to allow it on royal menus. Every major supermarket in Britain refuses to stock it, and large department stores, such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, have also removed it from their shelves following pressure from animal rights groups, including Peta. Even so, one long-established British institution continues to put profit before ethics by refusing to stop selling this torture in a tin.

Last year, I joined forces with my old nemesis, Sir Roger Moore, aka James Bond, to protest against Fortnum & Mason's sale of foie gras but, so far, our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. We may have been arch-enemies on screen, but we agree on one thing: the UK should follow California's lead and ban the sale of foie gras to prevent companies such as Fortnum & Mason from profiting from products of torture. your social media marketing partner


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+4 # Thebigkate 2012-06-25 23:13
It is beyond me how supposedly humane and considerate human beings can flock to grab the "last days" of foie gras, knowing the kind of torture and abuse foisted on these helpless creatures.

What does this say about the narcissism and greed of the human race? I will answer that: it says it all. Or as my psychiatrist husband says: "We human beings are wrecks."

Get me out of here, please!
+4 # Adoregon 2012-06-26 12:50
Let [the] fools feast on dead flesh and organs.

Let their arteries clog and their livers malfunction.

Let them suffer and die as do all animals raised and murdered for human consumption.
-8 # Scott Griffith 2012-06-26 01:28
Foie gras is delicious, especially with sweet, muscat dessert wines, and good for you. Where I live in France I've seen equivalent films of free-range ducks and geese healthily and happily pushing and shoving to line up for their gavage. They love it. The anatomy of their throats is simple compared to human throats. 'Shoving' something down one doesn't mean the same thing. You can always cherry-pick horror stories to support your cause. The cause is usually animal welfare in the case of Brits. You'd be better paying attention in that country to child welfare, in my view.
+6 # GeeRob 2012-06-26 08:44
You can also cherry-pick those "happy" stories about ducks and geese pushing and shoving to eagerly line up for their gavage.
Here's a novel idea, Scott: Paying attention to child AND animal welfare.
0 # Valleyboy 2012-06-26 03:26
From wikipedia:

Berkoff is a committed Zionist, and an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, who believes that being a Jew is inseparable from being a Zionist.
Berkoff says that "the flak" that Israel received over the Gaza attack was "appalling."

I find it sad when a person considers the plight of a duck more significant than that of the palestinians - his fellow human beings.
+6 # Glen 2012-06-26 07:24
Ah, the human animal. Not only do they torture each other, they torture other animals. Well, they torture or ruin pretty much every living thing.
+1 # T4D 2012-06-26 08:38
Humans destroy their livers with alcohol. Some say they enjoy the excess required, but seldom is there any benefit.
+1 # Citizen Mike 2012-06-26 11:04
Since we as a nation now support torture and affirm the use of waterboarding, we ought to celebrate foie gras and defiantly promote it. Let's declare it our National Food In Honor Of Torture. Bet the Republicans would strongly support that!

Let's go further,why not use the gavage device on the Guantanamo victims to extract "vital intelligence." Of course, they will have to write it all down if we bust their throats with force-feeding but who cares, they're only Moslems, not real human beings.

I wonder how many right-wingers would take the above suggestions seriously? Expect most of them would fall for it because they are vicious dingbats.
+2 # Brent Davis 2012-06-26 14:28
Take a few farmers who make money from force feeding these birds & force feed them for a week. Make sure you take a full video of all of it, so you can make a profit on selling these DVDs. Force feed these friendly Humans by weight, at the same rate they would feed their birds and all this stupidity can soon come to an end, or at least perhaps come out of the anus's of those who enjoy it.

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